Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The only thing we have to fear...(Part 1)

In his first inaugural speech in 1933, a new President addressed the nation regarding serious issues facing our country. President Roosevelt had to provide hope and encouragement during the largest economic crisis ever - The Great Depression. The economic numbers for the United States during the early 1930s looked like this:

  • 13 million people became unemployed.
  • Industrial production fell by nearly 45% between the years 1929 and 1932.
  • Home-building dropped by 80% between the years 1929 and 1932.
  • From the years 1929 to 1932, about 5,000 banks went out of business.
  • By 1933, 11,000 of the US' 25,000 banks had failed.
  • In 1933, 25% of all workers and 37% of all non-farm workers were unemployed.
  • Between 1929 and 1932 the income of the average American family was reduced by 40%.
The citizens of the United States became extremely fearful, and who could blame them! Everywhere they went and everything they saw and heard showed evidence of the depression. As a result, people took money out of the economy through hording, they had too much debt to begin with, or they became unemployed as a result of the shrinking economy. The fear of our people became a self-fulfilling prophecy of economic disaster.

President Roosevelt instinctively knew this fear was our ultimate undoing, and addressed it in this manner:

"This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply..."

Fear can and will impact every aspect of our lives, whether it be our marriages, our children, our careers, or our family finances. Faith is our only hope out of the wilderness of fear.

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