America’s fortunes have always been dependent on God-fearing leaders who understood their power was subservient to the throne of heaven. Let me remind you how that played out at Valley Forge, PA during the worst winter days of the Revolutionary War.
Gen. George Washington’s soldiers were cold, starving, undersupplied and desperate. More were dying of exposure than from battle. There are reports that men were so hungry that they were boiling their leather shoes to eat. Many of Washington’s freedom fighters were seriously considering deserting and returning home. Elsewhere, the American cause was slipping away. British armies occupied New York and Philadelphia and the powerful British navy patrolled the coast.
Washington ordered the army chaplains to conduct worship services for the troops, and he ordered his men to take seriously the national day of prayer and fasting proclaimed by Congress in April of 1778. One of Washington’s chaplains, thirty-year-old, Israel Evans preached a sermon on the theme of thanksgiving from Psalm 115 on the text, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.” The sermon hit home and copies of it spread through Valley Forge. Washington read and endorsed the sermon, telling Evans, “It will ever be the first wish of my heart to aid your pious endeavors to inculcate a due sense of the dependence we ought to place in that wise and powerful Being on whom alone our success depends.”
The army gained renewed morale, and later Washington said he hoped future generations would look back on the American Revolution to see how the hand of God’s guidance had wrought the miracle of liberty. Washington said, “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all of this that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”
What would Washington think of us today? Our nation has lost both its faith and gratitude, but I haven’t lost hope. If God could reverse the fortunes of the Continental Army at Valley Forge, He can reverse the tides of evil today. He can send a great revival to our homeland if we repent and worship Him as we should. Our hope is not in government, but in God. -DM
14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, 15 the stock that your right hand planted . . . 18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:14-15, 18-19)