Sunday, December 7, 2008
I was trying to think of an appropriate way to blend my usual 'Sunday Sermon' article with a remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. I could have just went with two separate articles, but there had to be many connections between faith and the events of December 7th, 1941 when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Naval forces at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This sneak attack, which directly ushered America into World War II, resulted in President Franklin D. Roosevelt calling that Sunday morning "A date which will live in infamy!" Hawaii was a U.S. territory at the time, it would not become a full state until 1959, and it was a major American naval outpost in the South Pacific. The United States had never been attacked directly from an outside enemy, considering the Civil War as a purely internal struggle. So as the 353 Japanese bombers continually descended over Pearl without warning on that peaceful, sunny Sunday morning and began their devastating bombing and strafing runs, the significant American forces stationed there were taken completely by surprise. The Japanese inflicted tremendous damage that morning in an attempt to keep America from influencing their plans to dominate Southeast Asia. Numerous American ships and aircraft were destroyed and damaged, while 2,402 Americans lost their lives at Pearl and another 1,282 were wounded. The Japanese were allies of the Germans, and Hitler and his Nazi regime was already engaged in overrunning Europe. The Americans had tried to stay out of the war to this point, but in the aftermath of the attack at Pearl, Hitler declared war on the United States as an ally of Japan. At that time the U.S. was not the most powerful nation on earth, it was a budding military power that was still trying to fully emerge from the internal struggle of its lengthy economic Depression of the 1930's. America's passions were enflamed by this attack and the deaths of so many young servicepersons, and the nation was rallied to open their eyes to the full scope of the danger in sitting back and not engaging the Nazis and the Japanese Imperialists. When you look closely at the basic elements of the key nations in the titanic struggle that was WWII, one stands out above all to any person of faith. The Germans and the Japanese cultures were overrun by Nazis and Imperialists, and in Italy the Socialists were in charge. Combined they were known as the 'Axis' powers who wanted to spread their ideologies and power, and none had a place for God. The Americans and British and the rest of what became known as the 'Allies' were largely God-fearing nations who frequently called on their faith to sustain during difficult times. That faith should always be appreciated by anyone who analyzes the eventual victory of the Allies in this epic struggle. A victory by the Allies signified a victory for freedom, democracy, and religious faith over the purely secular Axis regimes. Americans flooded their churches during these periods, praying for the health and safety of their loved ones, and for victory for our side. At home, they drew strength from this faith and forged one of the greatest industrial responses that mankind has ever seen, turning America's manufacturing capabilities from civilian purposes to military, allowing us to eventually overtake what had been a military superiority for the Axis at the outset. On the battlefields, in the skies, and on the seas, American military personnel were overwhelmingly Christian, prayed regularly, and turned to their faith during the difficult battles and circumstances in which they found themselves. I have no doubt that the one true God hears the prayers of His faithful. He allows our free will and our human choices to lead events here on earth, but he will intervene at the worst times when the direction of humanity itself is at stake. I have no doubt that God Himself intervened at numerous key times to give an ultimate advantage to the Allied forces in World War II. He granted us this intervention because we did not turn our backs on Him, and in fact turned even more towards Him during this difficult time. The lesson that we can learn is that it is important to turn to the Lord during difficult times in both our national and personal experiences. But we should also not return to a spiritual malaise when things are going well. Man's nature has always been to drift away from God when things are going good, thinking that we are doing well without Him when the truth is that it is His very blessings that put us in such a good position. We all need to turn more to God, in good times and in bad. Pearl Harbor became a rallying cry for the 'greatest generation', but there is question as to whether today's America can possibly respond in the same way to an existential threat, such as that from Radical Islam. We have drifted steadily away from God as a society and a nation since the end of WWII. We need to remember on this Sunday, December 7th, that Sunday morning 67 years ago, and never forget the blessings that God has given our nation throughout its history. God bless the living Veteran survivors of that fateful day. Their work, their sacrifice, their faith lives on now in fame, not in infamy.