Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD… Psalm 33:12 (NIV)
During the Civil War, there was an increase in “religious sentiment,” perhaps comparable to what we experienced right after the tragedy of 9/11. Suffering tends to makes us look outside ourselves to see what God might be doing or saying and how we might respond.
And so it was that when our country was going through the most divisive time in its history, Rev. M. R. Watkinson from Pennsylvania wrote to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase asking that “Almighty God” be somehow recognized on our currency. After all, from ancient times gods and rulers had their place of honor on the coinage of the land. Why shouldn’t the United States acknowledge God’s rightful role in our national affairs?
Secretary Chase responded by instructing the Director of the Mint to prepare a motto, saying, No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. Once the design was approved, it went to Congress, and the Act adding Chase’s notation passed in April 22, 1864. Eventually, this saying was added to our paper currency. On July 30, 1956, a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress and approved by the President declared IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States.
On November 8, 2016, our country experienced a gut-wrenching upheaval as the results of our national election were announced. For days analysts and pundits have tried to determine what happened. Did anyone really anticipate the historic event that has provoked rioting among some citizens and hope among others? And yet, we are one nation under God.
Did you take notice that in the late 19th Century one man, Rev. Watkinson, was compelled to act after having felt “our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters?” One man moved by God did what he could to make a difference in our country. And now our national motto is IN GOD WE TRUST.
Let us, as good citizens of our beloved country and members of the Church, continue to rise in prayer on behalf of our nation: for healing, for repentance, for spiritual renewal. And let us pray for all our leaders that we would be established in righteousness (I Timothy 2:1-4, Romans 13:1).
Father, your grace has brought us safe thus far. You established us as a nation for your purposes and have seen us through “many dangers, toils, and snares.” In thanksgiving for your love and your grace, we ask you to forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves and for choosing our own ways instead of yours; heal us; unite us in your love; be with all our leaders and give them wisdom to govern this great nation. IN GOD WE TRUST. AMEN.
* Information gathered from https://www.treasury.gov