Our family just saw the new movie about Abraham Lincoln. Impressive! Steven Spielberg does an admirable job reliving the final days of Lincoln which encompassed the end of the Civil War and the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals was the primary source and having read the book plus seeing the movie I think both paint a portrait of the American Civil War and the men who led our nation at the time. Abraham Lincoln was more than a political genius; he was a just, fair, compassionate, and moral humanitarian.
Lincoln also had profound spiritual perception – which is remarkable considering he never professed to be a Christian. Lincoln attended but never joined a church. He was disillusioned by organized religion, but he never denied the truth of the Scriptures. He read the Bible throughout his life, quoted from it, and made use of biblical images. It is said he knew much of the Bible by heart. He pointed our country to God and continually asked for prayers. He was not a theologian, but he openly acknowledged the sovereignty of God. Even in the midst of the Civil War, a time few had anything to be thankful for, Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday.
According to several books written about Lincoln, when a man approached him and said, “Mr. President, we trust during this time of trial in which the nation is engaged, God is on our side, and will give us victory.”
Lincoln wisely replied: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God’s side.”
Being president during one of the most trying times in our nation’s history, Lincoln refused to picture the North as entirely virtuous in the Civil War, nor the South entirely evil. He knew each was fighting for a cause they believed in. In his second Inaugural Address in 1865 he said, “Both (North and South) read the same Bible and pray to the same God…” He knew the outcome was in God’s hands. He knew God’s perspective is not always our perspective and he was wise enough to see the subtle difference between God being on our side or us being on God’s side
How many of us want to be on God’s side? Academically, we probably all do. Emotionally, if we are totally honest, most of us want God to be on our side. We want God to back us up, continually deliver us, and think like we do. We may pray, “Thy will be done,” but in our hearts we want God to give us what we yearn for. Far too often we seek for God’s will to align with ours, when we should be praying for our will to align with his.
We can learn a lot from Lincoln’s statement: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God’s side.” May we always believe and trust God. May we always pray and seek to be on God’s side.