“The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong.
“God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war, it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party — and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.
“I am almost ready to say that this is probably true — that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest.
“Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.”
President Abraham Lincoln wrote this private note to himself after 17 months of a brutal civil war amongst his fellow countrymen. He slipped it into the front drawer of what is now known as “Lincoln’s desk” and periodically would pull it out to read and meditate on its meaning and his role as a public servant elected leader of this country.
Three years later, on March 4, 1865, Lincoln delivered his sublime Second Inaugural Address to the nation which many experts consider to be the greatest speech ever given. At roughly 700 words, it was almost three times the length of his Gettysburg Address which the same experts consider to be one of the top five speeches of all time.
Lincoln amplifies on his same thoughts as in his private Meditations on the Divine Will note to himself.
“Four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. … Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. …
“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. … The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. … Yet, if God wills that (this war) continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”
What if the same could be said of today’s political polarization in America? What if both sides pray to the same God asking for deliverance and victory in their political fight against the other side … and neither side is deemed “righteous” to be granted victory?
What if God continues to “allow the contest to proceed”? Can we, as a country, survive as a free democratic republic much longer as a “house divided,” which is from yet another great Lincoln speech?
How would Abraham Lincoln navigate today’s treacherous polluted political waters if he were leading our country today?
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
We all need personal meditations. Try Lincoln’s Meditation on the Divine Will for this Thanksgiving season. We could use some malice toward none and charity to all right now.