In 2020, the public face of America went from being “the land of the free and the home of the brave” to “the land of the intimidated and the home of the fearful.” At issue is how we as a country handle fear.
As a nation, we have had reason to fear before. We entered World War II following an unprovoked attack by the Japanese Navy on our fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In the first eight months following that attack, Japanese forces seemed invincible. The German Army, recognized at that time as the most potent military force on earth, had conquered western Europe and their drive into Russia appeared unstoppable. Yet we handled our fear with courage.
From 1861 to 1865, the country tried to tear itself apart during the Civil War. Fighting raged from Pennsylvania to Georgia to the Mississippi River and beyond. Anyone’s front yard could become a battleground. But people on both sides of the conflict had a common factor that allowed our nation to survive the conflict and come together again.
The Revolutionary War pitted a bunch of ill-equipped colonists with minimal training and spotty leadership against the greatest military force in the world. Yet our patched together army and navy fought through the doubts and fears and intimidation to win an impossible victory.
These are just three of the many occasions over our history where circumstances could have allowed fear to rear its ugly head and cripple the nation. Until now we have always met those challenges with courage and fortitude. The nightmare that is 2020 has become the first time in our nation’s history that our fear has threatened to destroy our nation. That’s because we no longer have the cohesive bond that once united us as a nation. Much as the historical revisionists wish to deny it, that bond has been a national belief in the God of the Bible. Each American has always been allowed to worship God in his or her own personal way, but the American people as a whole have from our beginning been “one nation under God.” Until now. Now God is frequently ignored, and people of faith are belittled and denigrated – all to the hurt of the nation.
When we believed in God, we could “be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God, and the peace that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 6-7). We could take our fears and difficulties to God and be confident that God would provide solutions for our nation and our people – often in miraculous ways – and often not the ones we envisioned, but ones that worked for our good none the less. We had a common morality that bound us together with common goals and understanding. But that has changed as our nation has gotten more prosperous and powerful. We have done what other followers of God have done in history. “He saved them from the hand of him who hated them and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy… They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel… And He gave them their request but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:10, 13, 15).
When we trusted God our nation prospered. When that trust was a common element of life, we were united by what we believed was right in God’s eyes. More and more Americans deny – to our own hurt – that God has anything to do with the greatness of America. Instead, many Americans have turned – in the face of their fear – to government to do that which only God can do. And the more that we demand government provide our “daily bread,” heal us when we are sick, provide us with everything we want, the more powerful that government becomes and the more of our freedoms that government takes.
Government is a terrible god because it is a false god and cannot provide the safety people crave. In 2020, our national fear has allowed the government to steal our freedoms for the false promise of health and security. Once our nation started on the road to abandon God, America has become less and less of what it could and should be.
Rick Warren created a list of what happens when a culture forgets God: Wealth is idolized, truth is minimized, life is trivialized, abortion is legalized, television is vulgarized, everything is sexualized and commercialized, our consciences become desensitized, education is secularized, races are polarized, morals and ethics are liberalized, entertainment crime is sensationalized, immorality is popularized, drugs are legitimized, sin is glamorized, the courts are paralyzed, the breakup of the family is rationalized, manners are uncivilized, Christians are demonized, and God is marginalized. That seems a pretty apt description of our nation today.
America has become a breeding ground for fear because too many among us do not allow God to provide His peace and purpose in our personal lives and in the life of our nation. And God’s peace is the only thing that can destroy the fear that is destroying America.