In The Hand Of God
Of all the words ever spoken by our first President, George Washington, perhaps these are the most significant and enduring: “The event is in the Hand of God.”
On May 14, 1787, the Constitutional Convention met at the State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and formulating the Constitution of the United States of America. This involved the gathering of fifty-five remarkable representatives from across the land – virtually all of whom were members of Christian Denominations. They came together in an undertaking that would change the world! Freedom was their shared belief and securing it for posterity was their goal. But almost immediately, an uncompromising battle of wills revealed itself in arguments, quarrels, and tempers over a number of important and heated issues! Historians are almost unanimous in their assessment that, were it not for the dignity and careful impartiality of George Washington (unanimously elected as President of the Convention) they would soon have disbanded in tragedy with an irreparably broken union. An important turning point came when Washington rose during the proceedings and admonished the delegates with the now famous words: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God” (Farrand’s Records of the Federal Convention of 1787).
As we celebrate yet another Independence Day here in America, with abundant freedoms and lavish celebrations to which we have grown so accustomed, we do well to remember these eight famous words, for they are so swiftly drifting from the consciousness of the land: “The event is in the hand of God.” Truth be known, this statement is but a pale reflection of a far greater reality so capably articulated by the psalmist of old: It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes (Psalm 118:8-9).
This Fourth of July, let us remember just how impossible it is to account for America’s formation – and continuation – without the intervening Hand of God! Our forefathers bravely fought and died to release this land from shackles which extended across the sea. But muskets and bayonets cannot in and of themselves account for America! We have most certainly been blessed with an overflowing supply of natural resources. But rich soil, woodlands, streams and minerals cannot in and of themselves account for America! Americans continue to display great national pride through heartfelt patriotism. But even patriotism cannot in and of itself account for America!
The strength of America has always been spiritual! As we celebrate our freedoms, let us remember God’s role in the formation of this Republic. And let us labor to preserve our forebears’ ideal – a standard to which the wise and the honest of every generation can repair! Above all, let us not lose sight of the fact that our destiny remains “in the Hand of God.”