This year’s after Christmas dinner chat was not about fond memories or embarrassing childhood stories. Instead, everyone had their prognostications of our economic future. The outlook of most Americans seems bleak at this point. Some believe that our worst days are still to come. Others think that we are on the right track and in time things will “straighten out.” Whether that happens or not, we would do well to heed Will Rogers’ warning: Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there. Here are some thoughts on what we could be doing while we wait.

Prepare ourselves for tectonic shifts in our standard of living. Ecclesiastes 3:3b reminds us that there is “a time to break down, and a time to build up.” Break downs can actually be what America needs now. Trials and tough times tend to bring out virtues like sacrifice, perseverance, self-discipline, courage, responsibility, work-ethics, loyalty, friendship, and integrity. These qualities are shaped on the anvil of life. Maybe, then we can truly understand the words of Clarence the Angel to George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) in It’s a Wonderful Life: You see George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?

Reform our education system to prepare our children and grandchildren to face the future. Although some improvements have been made in the past couple of years, we are still a far cry from being a world leader in education. According to the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) just released, the US continues to trail behind several Asian and European countries. In math, our fourth graders scored 11th and eighth graders ranked 9th. In science, U.S. fourth graders placed 8th, and eighth graders ranked 11th. The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test from last year showed that our 15 year olds trailed further behind other countries in math and science. We can’t throw money at this problem. Psalm 127:3 tells us that “children are a gift of the LORD” and deserve our best. We need prayer and a major overhaul of the system.

Pray for another Great Awakening. The ground is fertile for revival. Hard times can either draw people closer to God or lead us away from Him. To those who are looking for something new to save us, it might be worth hearing the words of former president Herbert Hoover: “We have overworked the word ‘new’. . . The practical thing we can do, if we want to make the world over, is to try out the word ‘Old’ for a while. There are some ‘old’ things that made this country . . . Some old things are slipping badly in American life and if they slip too far, the lights will go out of America!” Some of these old things are “Old virtues of religious faith, integrity and whole truth . . . honor in public office, economy in government, individual liberty . . . willingness to sacrifice . . . Our greatest danger is not from invasion by foreign armies. Our dangers are that we may commit suicide from within by complaisance with evil.” As the Old Book reminds us “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

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