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“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

In January of 1815, the War of 1812 was not going well for the United States. When we remember Andrew Jackson’s role in the conflict known as the Battle of New Orleans, we seldom hear about his relationship with the Ursuline nuns of that city. But, we should. On January 8, 1815, Jackson and his mostly untrained militia of only a few thousand were heavily out-numbered by a British army of veteran soldiers about three times its size. However, the U.S. handed the British the most lopsided defeat in their history, inflicting over 2000 casualties with minimal American lives lost. The night before the Battle of New Orleans – a large wooden statue of Mary and the child Jesus, known as Our Lady of Prompt Succor, was placed above the chapel entrance. All night long the Ursuline sisters and New Orleans citizens prayed for an American victory. The Mother and nuns were still at prayer on January 8 when a courier arrived at the church making a dramatic entrance and proclaiming that General Jackson was victorious. After the battle, ‘Old Hickory’ Jackson came to the convent to thank the nuns for their prayers.  He stated, “The divine providence of God through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor has shielded us and granted this stupendous miracle.” In later years whenever Jackson went to New Orleans, he always visited the Ursuline Convent where an annual Mass of Thanksgiving has been held faithfully since 1815.

In God’s Word, we are introduced to Gideon, the fifth judge of Israel. He played a small but important role in the history of God’s people. An angel spoke to Gideon who was called upon as a reluctant leader to free Israel from its enemy, the Midianites. After testing the Lord in several ways, Gideon came to be convinced of God’s power. Even though Gideon’s army was greatly outnumbered, the Lord continued to reduce his force from thousands to only 300 through a series of events. “That night the LORD said, ‘Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them!’” (Judges 7:9). After overhearing a man in one of the Midianite outposts reveal a dream he had, Gideon was encouraged. He divided his 300 men into three groups of 100 each. Armed with clay jars, torches, and trumpets – they spaced themselves around the enemy camp. When signaled, “all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, ‘A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!’ Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the LORD caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away…” (Judges 7:19-22).

From these narratives, we learn that God is much more powerful than we ever give Him credit for being. God’s power is enough to triumph in any conflict, but so often we fail to comprehend the mightiness of that power.  That is because we try to define who God is by our limited understanding of His divine nature.  Once, Jesus was asked by His disciples who could receive the gift of salvation? “Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible’” (Matthew 19:26). As our journey deepens with Him, we will discover that God hears those who seek His intervention through their prayers. All things are indeed possible with God, and our God does abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.  When we trust His power to work in our lives without definition or explanation – our faith is increased. Jesus said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:14). American pastor and author David Platt states it this way: “Nothing is impossible for the people of God who trust the power of God to accomplish the will of God.” While we may not be called upon to lead a conflict on the battlefield with seemingly far too few men, there undoubtedly will be times when the adversities we face will leave us feeling overwhelmed, without much hope or direction. Then we come to realize that our spiritual victories only ever occur because of God’s power and not through our own. We must never underestimate the mighty power of what He can do in our lives.

REFLECTION: Have you experienced God’s enormous power for overcoming life’s opposing forces? If not, what changes might you consider making? Will you dare to give what little you have to God, trusting that He will take your small offering and make something amazing out of it?


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