An Economy of Irony

If I told you that the American economy is currently doing very well, would you believe me? If you pay even a little attention to the news, you would certainly not.

The news these days is bleak. The mortgage industry collapses further each day, dragging down whomever it can. The dollar consistently sets  records as its value decreases in the world market. The national debt is larger than it has ever been. Add to that the demands on the country to buy increasingly expensive oil and other resources, obligations to solve problems in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the picture you might see is one of a country on the brink of collapse. All the evidence in the news today portends a decline in the American economy, and a rapid one at that. The news certainly does not forecast a flourishing economy.

You might offer me this clear evidence as a counter-argument to my claim of America’s “successful economy.” And I would agree with you. However, I would point out to you that for every licensed driver, there’s a car on the road. With all those cars on the road, even though gas prices are higher than ever, gas consumption is continuing to grow. I’d also bring to your attention that Americans are living in increasingly larger homes, while housing fewer people. Another thing to consider is the $160 billion a year (and rapidly growing — $160 billion is a 2005 statistic) market for self storage. Such a gigantic market indicates that Americans have such an insatiable appetite for consuming goods that they can’t even store the stuff they buy in their newer, larger homes. It’s not just cheap stuff Americans are buying, either. Luxury brands report consistent upward sales trends and perform very well. By an empirical analysis, Americans live in a palatial state of being, continually lifting their standard of living. Even though the news about the economy is dismal, according to the way they spend, Americans don’t seem to care.

Putting the news together with America’s buying habits describes a dangerous set of circumstances. We know about this danger because the Bible tells us what must come to fruition. As a result of national disobedience, God communicates a warning in Deuteronomy 28:47-48:

“Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.”

As the standards of living continue to escalate, while the economic foundation to support it weakens, America is setting itself up for a great fall. How great that  fall from a life of luxury to the need of everything will be!

When considering the times and circumstances to come, Paul gives those who live in Christ some reassurance in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 when he writes, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”

Let us be encouraged by God’s instructions and warnings so that we too are not left in the dark when that fateful and inevitable fall occurs.

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