As greater Washington D.C. and the surrounding region receive the latest blessing of climate change, there is much rich symbolism about another very difficult winter in that region. Our painful reminder of how dependent we are on electricity pales in comparison with the suffering of a ragged, ill-equipped, freezing and hungry group of men.
Our feeling of frustration and oppression by the Marxist madness coming from the capital this past year is also diminished when we are reminded of the impossible nature of what those men were up against. Flash back to Dec. 25, 1776.
The Continental Army had fought, bled, died and retreated from Boston and New York, and had barely escaped across the Delaware River ahead of Gen. Cornwallis.
Outnumbered three to one, freezing and facing desertion and expiring enlistments of most of his remaining soldiers, complete lack of supply and a Congress that had fled Philadelphia, Gen. George Washington knew this was literally “do or die.”
As the British went into winter quarters, leaving the brutal Hessians in control of Trenton as the front line facing the Continentals, Washington made a decision that defense was not an option and a victory was desperately needed – hence the famous midnight crossing under winter storm conditions. The surprise attack of the Battle of Trenton, catching the partied-out Hessians with hangovers, provided that victory … and kept the flames of freedom alive for the infant nation.
Their hardships can’t even be understood by most of us today, a nation that is now conditioned for “sacrifice without cost,” giving out of our abundance and complaining when FEMA doesn’t wipe our nose.
Washington relates the conditions similarly faced by these men the following winter of 1777:
No history now extant can furnish an instance of an army’s suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude. To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie on, without shoes (for their feet) … and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled. (“America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations,” William Federer)
I am challenged to the depths of my soul by these and so many others who have truly suffered unimaginably – willingly – for the cause of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I am even more convicted by those who gave their lives so that I may know the Savior. I have done so little and given so little compared to so many – would I have been willing to endure those conditions?
I don’t know.
I do know that in this critical election year there can be no excuse for any citizen of this country, particularly Christians who have also accepted the precious gift of the suffering of the Son of God for our eternal freedom, to do our duty. That starts with the first principle of self-government.
William Penn asserted, “If thou wouldst rule well, thou must rule for God, and to do that thou must be ruled by Him. … Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.” Ouch.
All over this nation we are already in the midst of primary elections, local municipal elections and campaigns going full throttle toward the November General Election. Glimmers of hope for common sense have emerged from Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
However, our test will come as a nation on each Election Day by those who do show up and vote, as well as how and why we vote. It will also come for those who don’t show up and once again spit on and desecrate the graves of those who suffered and died for us.
All that is asked of citizens of the United States (with the exception of those serving us in uniform) is once a year on average to set aside a few minutes to study issues and candidates, pray (ideally) and vote. We don’t have to cross the Delaware in the snow, in boats tossed on stormy waves.
We get in our heated and air-conditioned cars, drive on paved streets, go into heated or air-conditioned voting centers and punch a ballot, pull a lever or push a button. Tough duty.
So where will each of us be on election days this year and every year? If you, I and all who love God and love this nation are not wearing “I voted” stickers, having been governed by God and choosing representatives who are as well, we do not deserve one more day of blessing and freedom.