Beacon Hill Press
Itís a great blessing to have a real man with real faith in Christ as our president of the United States. Working on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, President George W. Bush exemplifies the characteristics our society associates with manhood. Yet this manís man has a strong faith in God. He has frequently and without apology proclaimed His relationship with our Heavenly Father. In fact, he openly testifies to the changes made in His life because of Godís grace. The following statement from his address at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2002 is a clear declaration of the role that real faith has in the life of this real man.
Since we met last year, millions of Americans have been led to prayer. They have prayed for comfort in time of grief, for understanding in a time of anger, for protection in a time of uncertainty.
Many, including me, have been on bended knee. The prayers of this nation are a part of the good that has come from the evil of September 11, more good than we could ever have predicted. Tragedy has brought forth the courage and the generosity of our people.
None of us would ever wish on anyone what happened on that day. Yet as with each life, sorrows we would not choose can bring wisdom and strength gained in no other way. This insight is central to many faiths, and certainly to faith that finds hope and comfort in a cross.
Every religion is welcomed in our country; all are practiced here. Many of our good citizens profess no religion at all. Our country has never had an official faith. Yet we have all been witnesses these past 21 weeks to the power of faith to see us through the hurt and loss that has come to our country.
Faith gives the assurance that our lives and our history have a moral design. As individuals, we know that suffering is temporary and hope is eternal. As a nation, we know that the ruthless will not inherit the earth. Faith teaches humility, and with it, tolerance. Once we have recognized Godís image in ourselves, we must recognize it in every human being.
Respect for the dignity of others can be found outside of religion, just as intolerance is sometimes found within it. Yet for millions of Americans, the practice of tolerance is a command of faith. When our country was attacked, Americans did not respond with bigotry. People from other countries and cultures have been treated with respect. And this is one victory in the war against terror.
At the same time, faith shows us the reality of good, and the reality of evil. Some acts and choices in this world have eternal consequences. It is always and everywhere wrong to target and kill the innocent. It is always and everywhere wrong to be cruel and hateful, to enslave and oppress. It is always and everywhere right to be kind and just, to protect the lives of others, and to lay down your life for a friend.
The men and women who charged into burning buildings to save others, those who fought the hijackers, were not confused about the difference between right and wrong. They knew the difference. They knew their duty. And we know their sacrifice was not in vain.
Faith shows us the way to self-giving, to love our neighbor as we would want to be loved ourselves. In service to others, we find deep human fulfillment. And as acts of service are multiplied, our nation becomes a more welcoming place for the weak and a better place for those who suffer and grieve.
For half a century now, the National Prayer Breakfast has been a symbol of the vital place of faith in the life of our nation. Youíve reminded generations of leaders of a purpose and a power greater than their own. In times of calm, and in times of crisis, youíve called us to prayer.
In this time of testing for our nation, my family and I have been blessed by the prayers of countless Americans. We have felt their sustaining power, and weíre incredibly grateful. Tremendous challenges await this nation, and there will be hardships ahead. Faith will not make our path easy, but it will give us strength for the journey.
The promise of faith is not the absence of suffering; it is the presence of grace. And at every step we are secure in knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hopeóand hope does not disappoint.
May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.
President Bushís comments can be found in their entirety at www.whitehouse.gov.