Dose of Truth

Only God knows

Tim Richards

April 12 is a monumental day in American history. Although 2021 marks the 160thanniversary of the event to which I am about to refer, very few remembered. Do you recognize the date? Perhaps adding the year will help, 1861. If you are still in the dark, let me add another detail, it occurred near Charleston, South Carolina at Fort Sumter.

April 12, 1861, marked the first battle of the Civil War. South Carolina’s militia began shelling the fort at 4:30 a.m. and for the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. As the bombing continued the citizens of Charleston celebrated the beginning of the war.

The fort’s commander, Major Robert Anderson, was forced to surrender the following day, April 13. As he retreated north, he took with him the United States flag that had flown over the fort. 

Although the battle was a victory for the South, Charleston’s citizens would not have been so quick to celebrate if they had known how difficult the war would be for their city and indeed the entire South. The next four years were by far the deadliest in U.S. history as 620,000 Americans lost their lives. According to Wikipedia, based on 1860 census numbers, 6% of all white men in the North died during the war, while 18% of white men in the South, almost 1 in 5 lost their lives.

Union forces retook Fort Sumter a little less than four years later, when the Confederate army was forced to abandon not just the fort, but Charleston itself on Feb. 22, 1865. A little less than two months later, General Robert E. Lee formally surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9. Lee’s surrender for all practical purposes ended the war.

Fort Sumter promised to again be in the news on April 14, when now Major General Robert Anderson returned to the fort and raised the same flag he had taken with him in retreat almost exactly four years earlier. The day’s festivities included a lengthy speech by famous anti-slavery preacher Henry Ward Beecher.

The story would have been widely reported in newspapers across America the next day except for one fact; Abraham Lincoln was shot that evening and died the following day.

The stories of Fort Sumter and President Lincoln’s assassination both demonstrate how we never know the future. The Bible makes this point when it says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog

April 12 is a monumental day in American history. Although 2021 marks the 160thanniversary of the event to which I am about to refer, very few remembered. Do you recognize the date? Perhaps adding the year will help, 1861. If you are still in the dark, let me add another detail, it occurred near Charleston, South Carolina at Fort Sumter.

April 12, 1861 marked the first battle of the Civil War. South Carolina’s militia began shelling the fort at 4:30 AM and for the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. As the bombing continued the citizens of Charleston celebrated the beginning of the war.

The fort’s commander Major Robert Anderson was forced to surrender the following day, April 13. As he retreated north, he took with him the United States flag that had flown over the fort. 

Although the battle was a victory for the South, Charleston’s citizens would not have been so quick to celebrate if they had known how difficult the war would be for their city and indeed the entire South. The next four years were by far the deadliest in U.S. history as 620,000 Americans lost their lives. According to Wikipedia, based on 1860 census numbers, 6% of all white men in the North died during the war, while 18% of white men in the South, almost 1 in 5 lost their lives.

Union forces retook Fort Sumter a little less than four years later, when the Confederate army was forced to abandon not just the fort, but Charleston itself on February 22, 1865. A little less than two months later, General Robert E. Lee formally surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9. Lee’s surrender for all practical purposes ended the war.

Fort Sumter promised to again be in the news on April 14, when now Major General Robert Anderson returned to the fort and raised the same flag he had taken with him in retreat almost exactly four years earlier. The day’s festivities included a lengthy speech by famous anti-slavery preacher Henry Ward Beecher.

The story would have been widely reported in newspapers across America the next day except for one fact; Abraham Lincoln was shot that evening and died the following day.

The stories of Fort Sumter and President Lincoln’s assassination both demonstrate how we never know the future. The Bible makes this point when it says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (James 4:14, NLT)

What we think is good may not really be, and what we think is bad is rarely permanent. Only God knows the future, our trust can only be in him.

Tim Richards

has been a pastor for 37 years, serving five churches, including his current church, The Refuge in St. Louis, which he founded. He and the congregation minister to those who are hurting and do their part to expand God’s kingdom. Tim and his wife Kelly have five children. “A Dose of Truth” which he has written for more than 25 years appears in 13 newspapers. His book, “Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times,” is available from Amazon. Feel free to contact him at iamtimrichards@yahoo.com. Photography is another of his skills. Pastor Tim photos may be viewed at https://flickr.com/photos/pentaxpastor.

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