Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Are We Being Punished?

When you see all the natural disasters, the economic conditions, and other problems we have right now in the U.S., you can’t help but think that God is punishing us. However, I don’t think God is punishing us right now, not that we don’t deserve it.

While God did a lot of punishing in the Old Testament, I don’t believe we see too much of that today, but we do see the consequences of poor decisions. For example, we’re in an economic mess because of poor decisions made by the government, financial institutions, and individuals. Even much the devastation caused by natural disasters results from poor decisions and poor planning. All of these problems, which I believe God allows but doesn’t cause, can be wake-up calls to us. They can be warnings like the canary in the coal mine, alerting us in a number of ways.

What have we as a nation done in the last 40-50 years or so in addition to living beyond our means? We’ve steadily moved further and further away from God and our Judeo-Christian heritage. As we’ve moved further from God individually and as a nation, and have systematically removed God from public life, what have we seen happen?

-Society is becoming ruder and cruder.
-Many are turning to drugs and alcohol to escape reality and responsibility.
-There is significant crime and violence.
-We have a large segment of the population living in poverty, with more coming.
-We are on track to becoming a second-rate nation.
-We’ve racked up incredible debt, both as a nation and individually.
-We owe a trillion dollars to China – think what that means.
-We have a government that barely functions, so critical decisions are either not made or take a long time to get made.
-This latest generation will have a lower standard of living than those coming before them for the first time in American history.
-Schools are a mess, especially when it comes to discipline, bullying, and behavior.
-Jobs have disappeared from this country forever, so that any economic recovery will take a long time to get here and will not result in the kind of prosperity we’re used to. According to a recent survey, Americans have already lowered their expectations considerably.

The list goes on, but you get the point. Life wasn’t perfect pre-1970, let’s say, but we certainly didn’t have the severity of problems we have today. Yes, we had the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II, but people trusted God and pulled together, and they got through it. After those trials the U.S. became a superpower and enjoyed unprecedented prosperity. As time went on and things were good, we drifted away from God and chased after other gods.

As a people who have been especially blessed of all the nations in the world, we, more than anybody, should be faithful to God. So today we need to get back to God. Go to church, learn about God, learn to pray and read the Bible, and learn to trust in God’s provision. Then, and only then, will this nation begin to turn around by the grace of God. Let’s remember the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

[I]f my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (NRSV)

Let’s turn back to God before things get any worse.

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