A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

As a child in Texas I remember being taught never, ever compromise. (“Remember the Alamo!”) Texans always, always stood for what’s right. And soberly, as an adult, I really do want to stand for what’s right. But the truth is, I’ve learned, good people can have valid arguments for opposing views. That’s happening in America today, and it is tearing our dear country apart. The quarrels are brutal and rude. Our politicians seem unable to listen to each other and find a way to resolve conflicts.

There was a time in the history of our country when we nearly lost every precious freedom we’d won in the revolution. Our founding fathers were standing on principle. They could not see a way to reconcile truly valid, differing concerns.

The year was 1787. We’d fought the war with England to stop King John III from imposing unfair taxes. The peace treaty with England had been signed. Now American patriots gathered in Philadelphia to write a constitution for this new nation. Every citizen would have a voice in government. But how to accomplish that? The large, populous colonies didn’t want the small ones to have too much power; the small ones feared being controlled by the large, populous colonies. Debates, day after day, did not resolve the problem. Fear and anger threatened to end the congress, and that would end all hope for a United States..

Then Benjamin Franklin stood up. “Friends,” he said quietly, “too much is at stake here tto continue this quarrel. I ask you, each one, to go home and pray. Pray earnestly that God will give us the wisdom to solve this problem. Gentlemen, go home and pray!” And they did.

Those who are wise
will find a time and a way
to do what is right.
Yes, there is a time and a way for everything,
even as people’s troubles
lie heavily upon them. Ecclesiastes 8:5,6

After humbling themselves and praying, the delegates returned to Philadelphia. Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth offered the “Connecticut Compromise.” It proposed a “bicameral house” of two chambers. The House of Representatives would have members in proportion to their state’s population. The Senate would have two senators from each state, regardless of size or population. Checks and balances between the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court would help to prevents any of the three from gaining too much power. It was an elegant solution, a miracle of fair government, unlike anything the world had ever seen. It was accomplished with humility and prayer.

As God has helped us in the past, may He help our leaders again to humbly find ways to solve the conflicts shredding our dear country. It can be done, but only if we humble ourselves and pray. Yes, it can be done. “There is a time and a way to do what is right, even as people’s troubles lie heavily upon them.”

Come to think of it, couldn’t many of the conflicts in homes and businesses, in churches and in governments, be settled with fair and ethical compromise?