Sometimes we forget that God is in control of the many events that make up our lives and the lives of others in nations across the globe. Collectively, these events are called His (God’s) Story—also known as history.
God’s hand in history is very apparent in the stories of George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower. These men were both military heroes, victorious in war and exceptional leaders; both later became U.S. Presidents. Lesser known is the fact that both Washington and Eisenhower experienced episodes early on in life which, if God had not intervened and spared their lives, could have set our nation on an entirely different course.
In 1755 the French and Indian War was raging. During the Battle of Monongahela, the British—including twenty-three-year-old Colonel George Washington—were ambushed by the enemy. The red-coated officers on horseback were easy targets for the French and Indians, and many of them did not survive the battle. Colonel Washington was just as targeted. Two horses dropped beneath him, three bullets ripped through his uniform, and one through his hat. But he did not receive even a scratch. Washington later acknowledged this as God’s protection.
Fifteen years later, an Indian chief who had fought with the French in the Battle of Monongahela recalled how he had specifically ordered his braves to shoot Colonel Washington:
I called to my young men and said, “Mark yon tall and daring warrior? . . . Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies.” Our rifles were levelled, rifles which but for him knew not how to miss—‘twas all in vain; a power mightier far than we shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle . . . The Great Spirit protects that man.
Without God’s shielding, there would have been no General Washington to lead our country to freedom in the War for Independence.
One hundred-fifty years later in 1905, sixteen-year-old Dwight D. Eisenhower lay in bed, suffering from blood poisoning which he had contracted from an infected knee. The doctor decided he needed to amputate the leg before it was too late, but Eisenhower would hear nothing of it. The boy barricaded his bedroom door and two of his brothers guarded it, so as not to allow the doctor near Eisenhower. As Rudolph Fields writes in his book Mister American:
He swore a pact with his brother Edgar. . .no one was to be allowed to touch him in case he fell asleep or unconscious because of the excruciating pain. Edgar stood guard, grimly, all night, the infection grew worse, while the doctor muttered darkly that it was too late, the boy was going to die. But one night the fever disappeared, the terrible swelling—which had reached the pelvis—started retreating. . . .
Eisenhower miraculously recovered. Had Eisenhower lost his leg, would he still have been the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during World War II, and would we have won the war?
These two incidents show that in history, tiny happenings can have huge consequences. These two leaders—Washington and Eisenhower—were spared because God knew America needed them.
Allison, Andrew M., Jay A. Parry, and W. Cleon Skousen. The Real George Washington, 3rd ed. National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2010.
Field, Rudolph. Mister American: Dwight D. Eisenhower. New York, R. Field Co. 1952. Accessed on Hathi Trust Digital Library, 9/2/2022.
Seale, William, ed. White House History (Collection 4, Nos. 19-25). White House Historical Association, 2010.
Taylor, Tim. The Book of Presidents. New York: Arno Press, 1972.