“They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him
by the people of Israel…” (Matthew 27:9)
He had been in the Navy, been wounded in battle, and now was speaking his first words to the nation as its president.
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
He no doubt meant them. He did not know that his nation would shortly decide it was not willing to pay any price or bear any burden. JFK did not realize that the price he would pay for the presidency would be his own life.
He had no way of foreseeing that after paying 58,200 lives in support of a South Asian friend, the government of his nation would say: We will pay no more. The famous quote from President Kennedy would have been more accurate if he had said, “We shall pay almost any price, bear almost any burden.
There was a limit to what America was willing to do to assure the survival and success of liberty.
The 4th of July raises again the question of, “How much?” How much of a price is this generation willing to pay for its own freedom? How much of a burden is it willing to bear in support of others?
Opinions vary. Estimates are no more than guesses. But the fear among many veterans is that the answer may end up being, “Not much.” Realism reports that there are limits to everything. Even if the spirit is willing, the means may not be there. Good thing there is God! Good thing he has no limits! Good thing he was willing to pay any price for our freedom! Good thing that he has not yet withdrawn his hand of blessing from our nation.
Our mind staggers at the price our nation has paid to gain, and then maintain, its liberty. The price in lives runs into the millions—in essential goods, into the billions.
But for all of that, our freedom remains partial. We cannot control the economy. We cannot control the weather. We cannot vanquish disease.
By ourselves, we were absolutely powerless before the dreaded enemies of sin, Satan, and death. Rescue had to come from outside of us—and it would not be cheap. Would the holy God pay any price, bear any burden to assure the success and survival of our liberty? Or, do we need to add the word, almost, to that statement? Those who know Jesus as their Savior know the answer to that question. No price was too high to pay. Not even the death of the Son of God. No burden was too great to bear. Not even the sins of the world.
We pray: Eternal Father, strong to save, you have carried our country through days of sunshine and the darkness of nights. Many were the times when it seemed our enemies would overwhelm us. Many were the enemies striving to pull us down. That we can still celebrate an Independence Day testifies to your abundant grace.
We thank you for those who were willing to sacrifice their lives to keep our nation free. We thank you more for your willingness to sacrifice your Son to free us from sin, Satan, and death. We bow our heads at the recognition that you were willing to pay any price to rescue us.