Psalm 107:1- Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
Only 25 days after the Declaration of Independence had been signed by the last delegate, General George Washington's army found itself trapped on the edge of Brooklyn, New York's, East River. The British had 20,000 seasoned soldiers ready to attack the 8,000 inexperienced, raw Colonials.
The end, as everyone could plainly see, was imminent.
It would have been imminent, but for some reason -- some illogical, inexplicable reason -- the British forces drew up short. They hesitated. Some have suggested the British commander was waiting for his fleet to sail up the river. The fleet didn't come, at least not when they were expected. A northwest wind blew, rains came, and the British ships couldn't set sail.
If the British hesitated, Washington didn't.
Under the cover of darkness, using small boats, Washington led his men in retreat. With haste, carrying a few men at a time, the boats crisscrossed the river. The goal was to save as much of the army as was possible. The night passed before the job was completed. The approach of dawn would make the ferrying boats target practice for the skilled artillerymen of the British.
That's the way history might have written the end of the Rebel Army, but it didn't happen that way.
Just as the sun came up, so did a fog. It wasn't so thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, but it was thick enough so visibility was reduced to less than 20 feet. The fog hung on until the last Colonial boat, the one with Washington, was launched.
The best the British could do was lob some shells at Washington's boat, which was out of range.
Sitting, as you are in your comfortable house, far removed from that time, you may be thinking quite a coincidence or some luck or a great throw of the dice. It would be foolish to think that God sent the rains, that God directed the winds, that God brought up the fog.
Every modern, sophisticated thinker knows Washington's escape was pure fate.
That's what we would say, but almost every one of the American soldiers who recorded the events of that night gave credit for these "coincidental happenings" to the Triune God. And there were many British troops who wondered if they shouldn't go home since the Lord was obviously fighting for the Colonies.
No doubt, many of the American men, having been delivered by this miracle, thought of Psalm 107:1: "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!"
Of course, all this was over two-and-a-quarter centuries ago. Much of America has become too sophisticated to rely on God, to think of Him, or thank Him. And that, my friends, is a big mistake. You see, God's mercy endures forever, but His patience does not.
Far better for those in America, or whatever country you call home, to give thanks to the Lord for not only giving us forgiveness and salvation through His Son, but also for His blessings and freedoms, which are far more dependable than are our thanks.
THE PRAYER: On this day of picnics and fireworks and family, may Your people also give thanks for Your hand of protection, which has guided us in the past even as it does today. This I ask in the Savior's Name.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries