It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. [Psalm 118:8-9 (NLT)]
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.” [Francis Scott Key (The Star Spangled Banner)]
Recently, a friend sent me one of those viral, supposedly true but most likely not, inspirational stories. True or not, it made me pause and consider, not just pennies, but all of our U.S. currency. In the story, a rich man bends over and picks up a penny from the ground. As we eventually learn, he picks up every coin he finds on the ground, not for its value, but for the message on the money—“In God We Trust”! Whenever he sees a coin on the ground, he believes it is God’s way of reminding him to trust Him and sees it as an opportunity to start a conversation with his Heavenly Father. While most of my monetary transactions involve a credit card or on-line banking, after reading this story, I don’t think I’ll look at money the same way again. I know that when I find a coin, I’ll think of it a God’s way of reminding me in whom I should put my trust!
This Internet message got me thinking about those words on our coins. Thanks to Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase’s directive that, “The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins,” the phrase “In God We Trust” appeared on a bronze two-cent piece in 1864. Our nation was in the midst of the bloody Civil War and those words were to profess our faith and trust in God during that turbulent time. They were taken from the rarely sung fourth verse of our national anthem. In the 1950s, our nation was again embroiled in a war—the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The words “under God” appeared in the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 and, two years later, “In God We Trust” became the official motto of our nation. It was to appear on all U.S. currency and continues to do so today. These words were to differentiate us from the Soviet Union, a nation that promoted atheism and had passed anti-religion legislation.
Unfortunately, there never seems to be a time when our nation is not in turmoil of some kind. Even though we find “E Pluribus Unum” (meaning “out of many, one”) on our currency and the Great Seal of the U.S., it is not our nation’s motto. While it rightly reflects our country’s melting pot nature and how thirteen colonies came together to form one nation, we must never forget that this one nation exists under God and must place its trust in Him.
If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under. [President Ronald Reagan]
’Tis an hour of National peril and danger, an hour when man’s strength is weakness, where our strength and our nation’s strength and salvation must be in the God of battles and of nations. Let us reverently acknowledge his sovereignty, and let our coinage declare our trust in God. [James Pollock, Director of the United States Mint (1863)]