By Chris McAlpin
(The following is expressed as the personal opinion of Chris McAlpin )
Thanksgiving is a time to stop and reflect on our standard thankful lists; family, friends, life, health, wealth, etc. With so much to be thankful for it’s hard to believe we live in a world that also has so much to be fearful of. Can we be truly thankful but afraid at the same time? It’s an interesting question to ponder. It really comes down to who are we thankful to and do we trust that source to continue providing the things we are thankful for.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal* about Venezuela’s Golden Generation tells a perplexing story. This generation that was born in the ‘70s, grew up in the ’80s, and graduated in the ’90s, and their potential resonated. They grew up in a time when hard work and education were highly valued, some might say Venezuela’s golden age. The article showed an image of the class of ’94 at their senior party, hanging out on the beach. In that image the cockiness of youth, and all the advantages of solid middle class with an upward trajectory were evident in their smiles and swagger. History tells us though that it wouldn’t last. This once oil rich democracy has crumbled and what was once South America’s richest nation is now one of its poorest. All the future bankers, lawyers, economists, and doctors in that 1994 picture have fled the country. The country’s rich potential no longer exists.
In my opinion, The United States once looked similar to Venezuela, swaggering and new. We are the sons and daughters of rebels who fought tyranny, of farmers who raised middle class kids, who raised bankers, lawyers, economists, and doctors. So, what, if any, is the difference? We are an extremely blessed nation and we would be remiss to forget that the very foundations of our country were built on the principles of faith and a reverence for our Creator. We were blessed because we were thankful and worshipped the Creator, and not the “created”.
Idolatry is simply the worship of the “created” instead of the “Creator”. We put our faith and joy in things or ideas that are not based on God and instead on things built by ourselves. Here is where the fear comes into play. Fear that what we’ve built will be lost or decay, which of course always happens. Fear that maybe these idols are not right or will not sustain us. On the other hand, when we put our faith in the “Creator” we know that He “will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We escape the clutches of fear by focusing on God and not what we can do on our own.
We share the example of the Venezuelan Golden Generation as an example of how quickly it can all be taken away. While there are most certainly Christ followers in Venezuela, as a nation they chose to follow their idols and as a result lost everything. It is very much a cautionary tale. In the United States, we have mind-boggling blessings and are capable of great generosity. Yet, we are currently in the grips of overwhelming idolatry and by failing to be thankful to the Creator, we risk the created in our land.
So while statistics look good; the economy is growing, the stock market is up, and unemployment is down, we must remember what we’ve read in Psalm 37:
Do not fret because of those who are evil and do wrong; they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; live and enjoy safety. Delight in the Lord. Commit your way to the Lord; trust Him and he will do this: make your righteous evident, vindicate you for everyone to see.
We challenge you, this Thanksgiving and Christmas, to remember where your thankfulness should be directed and be truly thankful to the One that has given us everything, including His own Son on the cross all those years ago. During this season of celebration, put your focus on Him and recognize that without Him, we have nothing. When you do, the fear fades away and you are only left with thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas from your friends at Sound Financial!
*Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2017, “The Class of 1994, Venezuela’s Golden Generation, Is Fleeing the Country” by Ryan Dube.
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