The year was 1914. Much of the world had immersed itself into what would become known as World War I. Although the United States had not yet become involved, American military leaders were beginning to make preparations. Participation in the conflict seemed inevitable.
On July 6, 1916, the cover of Leslie’s Weekly displayed a picture of Uncle Sam. This legendary figure, with his flowing white goatee and patriotic threads, had long served as the cherished symbol of our government. Under the likeness of the mythical but revered figure on the magazine appeared a probing question: “What are YOU doing for preparedness?”
The likeness that filled the cover of that famous issue of Leslie’s Weekly became one of the most popular pictures of all time, usually appearing on posters with the addition of the words “Uncle Sam wants YOU for U.S. Army.”
Those Americans whose blood ran red, white, and blue could not ignore the question. As the imminent threat of war loomed, their beloved Uncle Sam pleaded for their help. What else could they do? They had to assist in any way they could. Young men trained as soldiers. Housewives saved materials that could be recycled into military equipment. Businessmen purchased war bonds. Less than a year later, on April 6, 1917, the United States joined in the conflict.
When a nation cries for help, patriotic citizens clamor to assist. They realize that a nation is comprised of individual citizens, and when the nation suffers, the individuals suffer.
World War I ended in 1918. However, Uncle Sam is still in trouble. While he might need some young men and women to volunteer for the service, his greatest needs today are not of a military nature. His current enemy may be, in fact, much more dangerous than an army.
Uncle Sam’s dilemma today is that a wholesale rejection of God and morality have replaced the principles upon which this nation was founded. Simply standing for what we believe is categorized as hate and discrimination. America is in trouble. But what can we do?
Our first response is to complain. We criticize the president. We grumble about the Supreme Court justices. We ridicule our legislators and the ones who voted them into office.
Complaining, however therapeutic, cannot help Uncle Sam. The only reprieve is for the citizens and leaders of this great nation to experience a change of heart, and there is only one means by which this can be accomplished—through prayer.
We are, of course, not the first people to live in a nation that has forsaken God. A couple of millennia ago the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to pray for those in authority so they could “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2).
Most of us desire a quiet and peaceable life. We prefer to practice our faith without negative repercussions from those whom God has set up to lead our nation. Therefore, we need to pray that God changes their hearts.
Fellow Americans, Uncle Sam needs us. He needs us to go before the God of the universe, begging for our nation to return to Him. He needs us to pray for those who make and enforce our laws on a daily basis. He needs us to pray that citizens will dust off their Bibles and seek to obey the commands of God.
In 1916, Uncle Sam needed us to prepare for physical war. Today he needs us to prepare for spiritual war. What are you doing to help?
This article appeared in the Bremen Enquirer in my column Connections: Relating the Bible to Everyday Life on Thursday, January 7, 2016.