It has been almost a year since I received my last unemployment check, and I have had no income since that time. And, I still don’t have any employment prospects that I can see on the horizon, even though I have never stopped applying for jobs or talking with people. It appears that most employers aren’t interested in people who have been unemployed long-term. And there are millions just like me living in the shadows of this once great nation. The United States of America is one of the most prosperous nations ever to be established on this earth, yet millions of Americans are unemployed or underemployed and struggling financially in a world spiraling out of control from economic catastrophes that have hit in recent years.
So, when did we stop caring about and helping each other when times got tough? When did we start turning a blind eye to others less fortunate then ourselves? When did we start looking the other way as we drove by the homeless, the unemployed, and the destitute in this country holding their signs on the street corner or sleeping under a cardboard box or in a tent city? When did we start judging them as if we had any idea what it was really like to walk in their shoes? When did we become so callous that we figured what happened to them could never happen to us or that they did something to deserve it? When did we become so arrogant?
I read a short devotion yesterday by Dr. Charles Swindoll titled “Enough Is Enough” and here is what he had to say:
Enough Is Enough
If there were one great message I could deliver to those who struggle with not having an abundance of this world’s goods, it would be this simple yet profound premise for happiness. Great wealth is not related to money! It is an attitude of satisfaction coupled with inner peace, plus a day-by-day, moment-by-moment walk with God [emphasis mine]. Sounds so right, so good, doesn’t it? In our world of more, more, more . . . push, push, push . . . grab, grab, grab, this counsel is long overdue. In a word, the secret is contentment.
Contentment is something we must learn. It isn’t a trait we’re born with. But the question is how?
First, it really helps us to quit striving for more if we read the eternal dimension into today’s situation. We entered life empty-handed; we leave it the same way.
Second, it also helps us model contentment if we’ll boil life down to its essentials and try to simplify our lifestyle: something to eat, something to wear, and a roof over our heads [emphasis mine]. Everything beyond that we’d do well to consider as extra.
It’s foolish to trust in riches for security and they bring no lasting satisfaction.
It is God alone who supplies us “with all things to enjoy”
which leads to contentment.
I Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV 1984): “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Commend them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
For the past several decades we have turned the spotlight on ourselves—how we could acquire “the good life”—not sparing any expense including broken families, failed relationships, corrupt business practices, or whatever would put more money in our own pockets. We fell in love with money and all it can buy (possessions, power, people). Greed replaced God in our lives. For many, many decades God has blessed this nation like none other and what have we done with those blessings? We’ve asked for more. More . . . never satisfied with what we have but always seeking after more. We run after other gods—money, status, power–you name it and we’ve run after it. We threw God out of our schools, our universities, out of the public square, out of our government, but worst of all, out of our own lives and our own hearts.
And our nation is reeling from the consequences of our own actions, our own selfish attitudes, our own seeking after the insatiable “more” that is never satisfied. Doesn’t matter where we fall on the socio-economic scale–the super rich want more, and the desperately poor need more. And we’ve totally forgotten how to take our eyes off of ourselves and help others. Oh, we may give money to charities (for a tax deduction, of course), or our old clothes and other old possessions we no longer need to Goodwill or Salvation Army or other charities–but what about our hearts and our attitudes towards the less fortunate? Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to do those things (I’ve done them myself), and, indeed, we help a lot of those less fortunate when we give, but mostly, we keep our hearts and our valued possessions to ourselves. If you think I’m being too harsh in my assessment, would you ever think to buy some brand new furniture or other new possessions and give them to someone in need or open your homes to those less fortunate? Most likely, no . . . we give them the stuff we’ve used up and no longer want and let the homeless find a homeless shelter. As James 1:26-27 states: “Anyone who sets himself up as ‘religious’ by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world” (MSG) [emphasis mine].
When will we, as a nation, wake up to what is truly going on here? Corruption is in our businesses and in our government, and that’s because it is in our hearts. We want more for ourselves at the expense of others. We’d be wise to study how the Roman Empire came to a rather abrupt end after existing for several hundred years. Here are a few of the reasons (source of this information is located here):
- Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor
- Decline in morals
- Political corruption
- Fast expansion of the Empire (rapid growth in foreigners, some who hated the Romans)
- Constant wars and heavy military spending
- Barbarians gaining knowledge of Roman military tactics
- Failing economy
- Unemployment of the working classes
- The unemployed became bored which led to civil unrest and rioting in the streets
- Decline in ethics and values
- Slave labor
- Natural disasters
- Barbarian invasion (Rome had fierce foreign enemies)
Any of these reasons sound familiar? Will history repeat itself in the not-too-distant future here in America?
The answer to that question is up to us. And the question is this–are we willing to take our eyes off of ourselves; take the greed out of our own hearts, and truly care about this nation and each other once again? Are we willing to turn back to God or continue on as if He doesn’t matter or isn’t involved?
The choice is ours, and I’m not convinced that it isn’t too late already to turn things around; however, is it worth fighting for? I think so. Do you?
You decide . . . .
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