Many amazing events have occurred in history which defy the odds of being merely coincidence. Several years ago, I read Rick Beyer’s fascinating book, The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told. Based on the title, my wife knew I would enjoy the book and gave it to me as a Christmas gift. Today I want to share one of the incredible stories Beyer told.
The nation’s first presidential assassination attempt took place on January 30, 1835. Richard Lawrence tried to kill President Andrew Jackson. He began tracking Jackson and bought not one, but two pistols before deciding to kill the president at a funeral. His was forced to change his plan when he could not get close enough to shoot the president during the service.
However, as Jackson left, Lawrence hid near a pillar where he knew the president would pass. As he walked by, the would-be assassin stepped out from behind a column and pulled the trigger of his first pistol.
Historians say he was so close he could not have missed, but the pistol misfired. When Jackson realized what was happening he raised his cane and lunged at his attacker. Undeterred, Lawrence pulled out his second pistol and this time at point blank range pulled the trigger. Unbelievably, it also misfired. A naval officer wrestled Lawrence to the ground and the assassination attempt was thwarted.
Why did Lawrence want to kill Jackson? He believed the president was keeping him from receiving a large government settlement and was convinced when he received the money he would take his rightful place as the King of England. As Beyer noted, “Richard Lawrence was extremely crazy. And Andrew Jackson turned out to be unbelievably lucky.”
But was it luck? After Lawrence arrest the pistols were examined and both were loaded correctly. A friend of the president later wrote, “Were I inclined to superstition, the conviction that the President’s life was protected by the hand of a special providence would be irresistible.” It was later estimated the odds of both pistols misfiring was only one in 125,000.
I am convinced God prevented Jackson’s death that day. The ancient King of Israel wrote these words thousands of years before the assassination attempt. “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.” (Proverbs 21:1, NLT)
Solomon’s point was that national rulers are ultimately under the control of the ruler of the universe. I am not suggesting God stops every terrible thing that happens. Honestly, I do not know why God stops some tragedies and not others. However, I am convinced he stops enough horrible events that it is clear God is at work in the shadows even when we do not clearly see him there.