Reasons for Hope, Part 3: About America

American flag

So far, my “Reasons for Hope” series has taken a narrow perspective, considering God’s promises of sanctification for individual believers, and then a big-picture one, considering God’s promises for the future. In this final article, I’m going to finish up in the middle, with a look at reasons for hope about our country and our place in it.

While patriotism should never shoulder aside the priorities of our faith, we still ought to care deeply about the state of our country. “Love your neighbor” naturally leads to an interest in our society and government, and in fact Paul instructed Timothy to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:2). In the Old Testament, God told his exiled people, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer 29:7). God put us in a particular place at a particular time for a particular reason, so we have a degree of responsibility for “the welfare of our city” and ought to pray and act and feel accordingly.

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Believing when we pray

In the penultimate scene of Abraham’s life, he sends a faithful servant to find a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s people. As the patriarch instructs his servant, warning him not to take a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites and assuring him that God will provide a suitable spouse, Abraham adds a very interesting qualification.

The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, “To your descendants I will give this land,” He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there. (Genesis 24:7-8)

Abraham expresses confidence that God will send his angel ahead of his servant to ensure success, but, nonetheless, he adds instructions for what the servant is to do if his mission fails. Is this a lack of faith on Abraham’s part? Is he doubting whether God will really keep his promises?

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