A Word of Encouragement with Elizabeth Rice Handford

Why do thousands of refugees risk drowning in an unsafe boat or suffocating in a packed airless tractor trailer in an effort to get inside our borders?

Why? Because, they see in America a treasure unmatched by any other nation in the world: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Why risk death to get here? (They do, daily, by the thousands.) Why? Because they see, in America, the chance to live free from unjust laws, unjust imprisonment. They see the opportunity to work hard and faithfully so they can feed and shelter their families, to put down roots in a land where integrity and morality are valued above status or wealth. And millions of other people across the world yearn for that opportunity.

Our country has been supremely blessed. We are blessed, certainly, in the land itself, with its vast resources and fertile soil, its soaring mountains and deep rivers, its beautiful variety of climate and aspect.

We are blessed, certainly, in our heritage from men and women who loved God, and honor, and freedom, more than life itself, and paid the price of our freedom with their lives.

We are blessed, certainly, in our diverse and gifted people with an infinite variety of skills and talents and races, a willingness to labor hard for family, and to meet the needs of the unfortunates in our midst.

We are blessed, certainly, in our form of government, with a constitution that protects every person’s rights. We are the “United” States. We have different heritages and different cultures, but we are more importantly, Americans.

Sure, there are many things wrong in our country. And those wrongs need to be addressed, sanely, compassionately, vigorously. But we need to fix them within the bounds of the constitution of our country. That unique and precious document protects and guarantees our rights. The fair and just means for righting the wrongs we are plagued with are all there. But we must have Almighty God’s help to change our own hearts first.

What joy for the nation whose God is the LORD! Psalm 33:12

That’s why I ask you, when you sing “God Bless America” on this fourth of July, that you make it an earnest, heart-felt prayer. Listen carefully to the words of the song:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America, Land that I love,
Stand beside her, and guide her Through the night with a light from above. . . .
God bless America, my home, sweet home. By Irving Berlin

Perhaps, instead of our grousing so much about the things that are wrong in our dear country, we should bow our hearts and thank God for the treasures He has given us. Then, with grateful hearts, we can expect His blessing on our whole-hearted efforts to remedy the wrongs. That’s why I ask the when you sing “God Bless America” at your July 4 celebration, make it a heart-felt prayer.