Today some very dark news came out about America’s future. The numbers are not good. The vital signs of an already weakened nation have gotten worse. These grim report have touched off a flurry of experts.
The messages are meant to shock us into reality. The message is that most of your dreams are dangerous delusions that will waste your life. Love will be rare and few if any will be there to take care of you. Their point is the sooner you get used it the sooner you will be able to cope. It is reminiscent of the proverbial phrase over the entrance to hell “All who enter here abandon hope.”
Out of all the voices that spoke there are two that I want to mention to you.
The first is from the Nobel prize winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz. He says that there is no American Dream. He says we are not the land of opportunity. He backs up his statements with a ton of research. We rank 8th among industrialized nations in opportunity. In fact, it was easier to get ahead in Old Europe than it is now in the United States. He said, “”The nature of our growth today is markedly different than in the decades after World War II,” he says. “There, we had shared prosperity. More recently, what we’ve had is exactly the opposite. … Right now, most Americans are worse off than they were 15 years ago. There has not been shared prosperity.” Bottom line: If you are born poor in America, you will die poor.
The second is a graduation speech by Wellesley High teacher David McCullough Jr. who said this to graduates, “You are not special. You are not exceptional. Contrary to what your soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.”
In an atmosphere like this hearts are crushed. Such is the case of one American businessman that I want to mention to you. He was wealthy at a young age. Then this recession hit. He lost everything and in a dangerous gloom he wrote this letter to a friend. “I am at the end of my rope, my business has crumbled, my communications with colleagues has faltered, and even my . . . wife and our children are estranged from me. It was all my fault.” He was even contemplating suicide.
Finally he committed himself. In the medical facility he would walk the corridors aimlessly sinking ever deeper into despair. One morning he was making his rounds at 7AM when something happened. He let out a desperate prayer for help. In that moment he heard people singing a hymn from his childhood. “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you All you need he will provide God will take care of you.”
“Suddenly needing to be heard, I cried inwardly, ‘Lord, will you take care of me? I can do nothing for myself!’ . . . I felt I was passing out of darkness into light.” The words “only believe” came to him. It was no longer about his own efforts, but God’s. “In the midst of failure to believe, I was being helped back to believing. At that time something happened to me which I cannot explain,” he said later. “It was a life-changing miracle, and I’ve been a different person ever since. I saw God in his glory.
That man was J.C. Penney who in the grinding depths of the depression lost it all and then heard the voice of death. Resurrection power swallowed up the spirit of death and this man went on to break all of the predictions of impossibility and the despair of his generation and build an retail empire based on the Golden Rule.
Isaiah 1:19 echoes down the centuries to us today: “If you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land.” No matter what, if we are willing and obedient, God will overrule every circumstance. The words of economists, doctors, teachers, may be accurate but they are not final. Don’t you dare let a dream die because of this economy. Don’t you dare let some man with some statistic tell you what your future will be. Look at the last days and defiantly declare, The end times are not happening to me, I am happening to the end times!