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The Hand of God
After the Allied landings in North Africa, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Anderson took command of the British 1st

The Hand of God

After the Allied landings in North Africa, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Anderson took command of the British 1st Army advancing to the east to capture Tunisia. With a mixture of British and American units, coordination was difficult and the logistics network chaotic. Anderson himself was a good soldier with a reputation for personal valor. However, his approach to the campaign was to carefully marshal his forces before advancing, and this unfortunately served to give the off-balance German defenders time to regroup. As German reinforcements poured into Tunis and winter weather turned the roads into quagmires, it became apparent that there would be no quick victory.

On Christmas Day 1942 Anderson wrote a lengthy letter to Alan Brooke explaining his actions and revealing a deep religious conviction. He said in part:

Things have not gone well and all my plans have had to be scrapped… This is the hand of God… I feel deflated and disappointed, but it is no use getting depressed. It would be too easy if we all attempted everything and succeeded. The Almighty is much too wise to spoil us mortals that way.

In my earlier life as a skeptic I would have looked on these statements as a rationalization for lack of success. Now, as a Christian, I look at the general’s thoughts as a simple acknowledgment that human beings are not in complete control of any situation. We are always confronted with unforeseen acts of nature, especially human nature. God does not always act to smooth our way or to ensure our success. He acts in accordance with his own plans and purpose, which we often do not understand. We can only pray constantly that our actions are in accordance with his will.

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble… You, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.

—Psalm 10:1, 14


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