Points to Ponder: Are We the Next "Greatest Generation"?
Points to Ponder
Are We the Next "Greatest Generation"?
I've been wondering if the next "Greatest Generation" is among us today. Tom Brokaw, in his book by the same title, tells of how men and women who lived through the Great Depression and World War II came through hard times. Sacrifice for them was the norm. They were a nation at war with a great evil, personified in Hitler and his Nazis. They were attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. There were shortages and rationing. On and on we could go in describing the sacrifices and perseverance of that generation.
One of the things I have observed in my dealings with folks from that era is that they don't throw things away. They save, they hoard; they "might need that someday, just in case." Whatever it is, they remember doing without.
We look back and study this group of people, learning lessons, amazed at how they got by without the things we could not imagine doing without. These folks also seem nostalgic about those days. Indeed they were poor, but consciously they did not really think of themselves that way. I'm generalizing, but all in all, this was a generation that endured the uncertainties of economic depression and world war. These were, for the most part, people of faith. They relied on God to provide and to see them through. And He did. And they say so.
Now we are entering a time that may be equivalent in magnitude to the Great Depression. In a way we are also in a world war. Osama bin Laden is our generation's Hitler. Terrorism, suicide bombings, and militant activity is occurring all over the world.
In numerous ways we could list the similarities between the challenges of the 1930's - 40's and today. But one glaring difference stands out in my mind.
In those days, our national motto "In God we trust", was unashamedly expressed by citizens at all levels of society and in our government. President Franklin Rossevelt actually led the nation in prayer over the radio. If soon-to-be President Obama would try that, imagine the hail of protests.
As we go through this generation's time of economic depression and war, if we actually allow the exclusion of God because of inordinate fear of the voice of the fools among us, what will God do in response? I don't mean to insult our atheist friends; it's simply a biblical truth to describe them as fools:
"The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they have done abominable works. There is none who does good" (Psalm 14:1).
Is that extreme? Well, David repeats it again in Psalm 53:1. Then there is this:
"The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God. God is in none of his thoughts" (Psalm 10:4).
Is it an accident that the new multi-million dollar Capitol visitors' center in Washington D.C. describes our history and leaves out "In God we trust" and references to our nation's religious heritage? Did you know that the National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", was written as a hymn; the fourth stanza includes "in God is our trust." (Not, "Play ball!")
Can this current "greatest generation", if that's what we turn out to be, weather these times as the previous one did? If God is not our trust, then in whom or what will we trust?
When Joshua led the second generation of Israelites into the Promised Land, something happened during those initial decades of prosperity and abundance. Either Joshua and his contemporaries failed to teach it, or their descendants failed to embrace it; or perhaps it was a combination of both. One verse sums up the turning point between generations.
"When all that (Joshua's) generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel" (Judges 2:10).
Then from verse 11 onward, they "did evil in the sight of the Lord"..."forsook the God of their fathers" and followed after the gods of the land. This led to centuries of being overcome by enemies, then rescued by "God's intervention; only to forsake Him again and fall before the next enemy.
When our children look back on these days, will we be for them the Greatest Generation? How are we going to lead our communities, our country, through these difficult times? It's not the government. It wasn't then, and it won't be now. (Remember Brokaw's title was The Greatest Generation, not the "Greatest President" or Congress, etc.)
Perhaps for our generation, the toughest enemies are not the terrorists or the economy. They are the loud voices of the fools among us who say there is no God and are demanding national conformity to their faith. You and I had better be a lot louder - with how we live our lives.
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com