The third Monday in February is designated as President’s Day. All Presidents, living and dead, are recognized and honored.
However, special honor is given to our first President, George Washington, born on February 22nd, and our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, who was born on this day, February 12th in 1809. Lincoln is one of America’s most admired Presidents. Called the Great Emancipator for his role in abolishing slavery, Lincoln was a unifying influence during the most divisive time in America’s history, the Civil War.
Lincoln was a man of faith, courage and humility. He was also a man of great persistence and perseverance. His life was filled with many problems, challenges and set backs. Here’s a brief sketch of Lincoln’s road to the White House.
1816 His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
1818 His mother died.
1831 Failed in business.
1832 Ran for state legislature – lost.
1832 Lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
1833 Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
1834 Ran for state legislature again – won.
1835 Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
1838 Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
1840 Sought to become elector – defeated.
1843 Ran for Congress – lost.
1846 Ran for Congress again – this time he won
1848 Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
1854 Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
1856 Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – got less than 100 votes.
1858 Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.
1860 Elected president of the United States.
What a lesson in dogged determination! In fortitude! In tenacity! I wonder if Lincoln’s faith played a role in this kind of unwavering persistence? There is some dispute among historians about Lincoln’s relationship with God. Some say Lincoln was an unbeliever. Others affirm that he was a “deeply religious man” who daily sought God’s guidance.
However when you read the many books about Lincoln, his speeches and letters, they are filled with references from the Bible and speak of his piety, his prayer life and his dependence on God’s guidance.
Honest Abe once wrote, “I am busily engaged in the study of the Bible . I believe it is God’s word because it finds me where I am.” I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good of the Savior of the world is communicated to us through the Book.”
What is without dispute is that Christians must be people of persistence. We live as “strangers and foreigners” in a wicked world. It is easy to become discouraged at the dishonesty of people in power, of corrupt politicians, and a biased news media. We are disillusioned at religious leaders who let us down. And even fellow Christians who lose their faith. Then when we suffer personal set-backs, it’s too easy to become disheartened. Discouraged. And defeated.
That’s why the Bible exhorts us to steadfastness in the midst of trial. God is saying to us, “Never give up!”
“Be not weary in well-doing” (Gal. 6:9)
“Never tire of doing what is right” (2 Thess. 3:13)
“Continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23)
In good times and bad, propensity and adversity, success and failure, we can learn some valuable life lessons from great Statesmen like Lincoln. However, let us “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2)
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor 15:58).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman