Saturday, February 3, 2018

God's Hand in History: The Battle of Trenton

Christmas night, 1776.  Washington is determined.  Now some months into this war against Great Britain, he realizes even more clearly America’s dire need for Divine Providence.  Enlistments will be up in just a few days; the American army looks pathetic; and a colonial victory is desperately needed. 

(Congress had sensed the need, too, and a few weeks earlier had urged every colony to call a day of prayer to ask God’s help for the nation.) 

Finally, it is time to act.  It’s a bold attempt, he knows, but he must try it. 

Trenton, New Jersey, is crawling with Hessian soldiers, elite groups under the direction of a Colonel Rahl.  The man has no respect for American soldiers and calls them a bunch of country clowns.  Christmas night sees Rahl and his men partying, playing cards, and having their share of alcohol.   Some time into the evening, a man appears with a message for Rahl, who stuffs it into his pocket and forgets about it.  (The note warns of an attack on Trenton.)

At the same time, Washington and his men are making their bold attempt, loading into boats at the edge of the Delaware River. God, meanwhile, is answering those prayers made by thousands of concerned Americans only days before.  The Almighty sends a storm at just the right time:  hail to discourage any Hessian who might be patrolling the coast, and snow to blind the enemies’ eyes and weaken visibility. 

Finally, after three hours of painstaking travel, the men arrive safely at the coast but must trudge a weary eleven miles to where Rahl and his men are stationed—time enough for summons to be made and the forlorn forces to be vanquished.  But no such problem arises:  Providence has prepared the path.

Washington arrives at Rahl’s outpost and proceeds to fight the unprepared Hessians.  Within one half hour, Rahl is mortally wounded, the untouched letter still in his pocket.  Three elite Hessian forces surrender, and the battle is the Americans!

Had it not been for the Divine hand of God, this “turning point” of the American Revolution may never have occurred.  The Americans’ morale may never have been restored; New Jersey troops very possibly would have been incredibly discouraged from re-enlistment, and the Americans, this early on, could easily have been defeated in their fight for independence. 

What’s more, we may not live today in a nation called the United States of America.

Let us praise God for His providential hand in history as we learn about our great nation.  May we, like the colonials did so long ago, intercede in prayer for this land.  How we need the mighty hand of Providence to guide and protect us yet today!