If you were to imagine a king calling his people to pray in the face of a threat by an enemy army, you might think it was an Old Testament leader like Jehoshaphat. If you were to imagine such people with their backs to the sea, crying out to God when there was nowhere to go, you might think it was under the leadership of Moses. In fact, both happened more recently because of the current queen’s dad! His leadership in prayer brought about what was later described as an inspiring “miracle of deliverance.”
The acknowledgment of the miracle came from the British Prime Minister. The sea didn’t part and musicians weren’t involved, as in the Bible, but God doesn’t necessarily perform miracles the way we sometimes look for them or the way that He has before. People may call God a crutch, but He’s not a bad one to have when we’re crippled! What do you do when you are faced with a pressure moment and need to trust God, because you have run out of other options?
In May 1940, one of the darkest moments in the Second World War came as hundreds of thousands of British and French soldiers were fleeing an advancing Nazi army. Crowded on the French beaches of Dunkirk was some seventy percent of the entire British army.
Pinned against the sea, they were spared from obliteration for two significant days as Hitler ordered his tired army to rest for a new battle, believing that his air force could finish off the sitting-duck soldiers. People had already been praying back in England.
Then, on Sunday 26th May 1940, King George VI himself called the nation to prayer. People gathered in churches all over the UK.
Hitler’s delay allowed a massive flotilla of volunteer boats to join the navy and rescue the troops. The waters of the English Channel became calmer than they had been in a generation. A cloud then appeared over the French coast to protect the soldiers from the German Luftwaffe.
It had been hoped that at least thirty thousand soldiers would be rescued, but over the next week, the number exceeded three hundred thousand as British fighter pilots staved off the enemy. While some German bombardment was successful, some boats were sunk and 2,000 lives were lost, the vast majority of the army survived. Little more than a month after the evacuation of Dunkirk, the nation had to prepare for the Battle of Britain, but now spirits were high and the soldiers were alive. British war fortunes turned, too.
One of the greatest biographies written about Hitler partially attributes the Dunkirk rescue to good luck. Others see it as a coincidence. I’ve found, though, that when I stop praying the coincidences stop happening!
God is still in the business of performing miracles of deliverance today if, as 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, His people who are called by His Name will humble themselves and pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways for Him to hear from Heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.
We need His intervention again today, perhaps more than ever before.