Over Independence Day, I posted a less known verse from “America the Beautiful” because it resonated when we sang the song in church. Since then the words have continued to work in me, so I thought we could discuss it today.
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
We owe a tremendous debt to soldiers who fight battles in conditions we can never imagine, who do whatever is required to bring liberty and safety to their country and its people. But, even though we’re not all soldiers, we are all called to be heroes in liberating strife. Can anyone doubt we are at war? Not only physical war with terrorists and deranged people who follow their example, but spiritual warfare for the soul of our nation, the lives and hearts and souls of its people. How beautiful are we for every step we take in our daily lives that brings some liberty in the weight of grief, of fear, of ignorance?
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
Mercy is a precious thing. I wonder if we realize how life changing–how world changing–it would be if each of us practiced it instead of anger and self-righteousness. In standing against evil, we must always have merciful hearts, so we do not miss the opportunities to rescue the weak, the blind, the disheartened, the misled, the angry, the wounded, and the lost. Mercy hurts because it opens us to God’s heart, to see and understand the wounds of others, to know their pain. But there can be no justice without mercy, so in any cause we serve, let it be tempered with Divine mercy.
May God thy gold refine
We are blessed among nations with bounty and the freedom to benefit from our labor. Oppressive governments take away the reward for toil that we take for granted, grumbling about our bosses, our wages, our co-workers. As a nation I pray that we will appreciate what we have and be generous with all, so our gold is refined by God, our strength restored to help and support the weak wherever they are found in need.
Till all success be nobleness
Success is so often vilified. If we’re successful we must be crooked or lucky, worthy of scorn and envy–to be pulled down, so that none has more than another. But if success is noble–as Paul says, the worker deserving his wage–then we should strive to do our best and be thankful when it succeeds. Be generous but unashamed by attacks from those who take without earning. As good and faithful servants we will take our places with the master and join the celebration.
And every gain divine!
All we have and all we do is for God’s glory. Give thanks for every book sold, every dollar earned, every customer or client or patient, no matter how few. Rejoice in the call, no matter how simple, and the freedom to serve, to strive, to succeed, and to be rewarded accordingly.
God bless America, the beautiful, one nation under God. God help her people, who have heard the call of violence and anger and turned upon each other instead of to each other. Heal her. Heal us. Let us be a beacon and a haven of mercy and blessing for all. Everything is possible with God.