A week or two ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook:
I eagerly clicked to type a response in the comments, but for some reason the question made me stop and think. I knew I thought it was great, but what thing would I choose to say in a Facebook comment?
Today, I’m ready to answer:
When has America ever been great?
This isn’t about a presidential campaign; this is asking a real question.
I could give many answers.
For example, I’m not old enough to remember, but I’m told that, in the days following 9/11, the American people showed the unity, power, and kindness that made America great.
Or I could mention America’s role in ending WWII and the Holocaust, or finally granting women the right to vote, or the North’s victory of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.
But more than all that, I would like to point us to the reason this country was created.
My answer hinges on the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is a text of scripture and of history. It tells the story of a family who left Israel and sailed across ocean to the Americas, led by God. It tells the story of their descendants and how they waned and waxed in faith in God, as well as tells of the visitation of the Savior to the Americas. (Book of Mormon Introduction)
Dozens of times, the Lord refers to America as the “land of promise,” where, as long as they keep His commandments, they will be blessed and prosper in the land. (See 1 Nephi 13 for evidence that He is referring to the Americas)
These are just a select few excerpts:
And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.1 Nephi 2:20 (spoken to Nephi, by the Lord)
Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuchas those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.2 Nephi 1:9 (spoken by Lehi to his sons)
America is not great just because, nor has not always been great. But whenever America remembers the Lord and keeps His commandments, it will be great because of Him.
And the greatest thing we have done in America is provide the environment for the emergence of the Book of Mormon and the blossoming of the full Restoration of His Gospel.
Clearly, God long had intended these things to happen here. 1 Nephi 13 prophesies of the story of the discovery of the Americas, of the Restoration, and of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
I am in awe and reverence at this statement, taken from a remarkable article from emeritus general authority Elder Callister:
“… Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers,… made this remarkable prophecy in 1820, the same year Joseph Smith received the First Vision: “If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests (the apostasy), will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.”
“Jefferson died in 1826. Four years later the gospel was restored — just as he prophesied. The Founding Fathers were the divinely appointed advance guard that made this Restoration possible. How grateful we should be for their inspired contribution to our country and Church.”
He said this in 1820. He died in 1826. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was established in 1830.
Now, the Church is 16 million strong, and growing. (Church Newsroom) Its headquarters may be in Utah, but thanks to the religious liberty we enjoy in the United States of America, it has been allowed to flourish here, put down strong roots, then spread to all corners of the earth.
Never before in human history has the Church of Jesus Christ been so blessed, widespread, or strong. Never before in human history have we had such widespread access to scripture, church buildings, temples, and the words of the living prophets.
Frankly, I think the United States of America has struggled with being great (read: being blessed) in a lot of ways, especially recently. But I also have faith that, if we turn to God individually, as families, and as a nation, He will yet bless us again.
To anyone else interested in learning about God’s hand blessing America, I would like to recommend a book, Seven Miracles that Saved America. I miraculously stumbled across it in a box of books I bought off Facebook Classifieds. It has changed my view of how I see America, and it has increased my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When has America ever been great?
When God has made us so.
What do you think?
Tell us in the comments: When do you think America has ever been great, if ever? Why?