Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Intoxication of Prosperity

It is by affliction chiefly that the heart of man is
purified, and that the thoughts are fixed on a better state.
Prosperity has power to intoxicate the imagination, to fix the
mind upon the present scene, to produce confidence and
elation, and to make him who enjoys affluence and honors
forget the hand by which they were bestowed.
... Samuel Johnson

I live in Orange County, CA a place known for its abundance. Although I never knew it growing up, by my peers' standards I would have been considered substantially worse off than they were. This never bothered me; I had everything I needed and more and I had something that most of them didn't - a well-functioning family. I was content and it was only as an adult that I realized how much material wealth they had in comparison to mine.

The wealth and prosperity in my hometown creates a desire among many to try and live here. There's the beach, the perpetual sunshine and all those good-looking people. It seems like a place where dreams come true. Whatever drama takes place in the OC is quickly resolved in forty-eight minutes (an hour if you add in commercials) and the drama always comes with a happy ending. What more can paradise afford? Sure there's the high cost of homes, but even paradise has its price.

But this is just an allusion. The happiness that seems to radiate from the sun's constant presence fades as night darkens the day. Everything that people possesses tempts them to believe that they have a barrier against discomfort and pain but they quickly realize the futility of this belief. Plastic surgery and good genes never prevented heartache. People think it's paradise, but it's still just a piece of Earth.

And as people try harder and harder to buy themselves a happy life, they fail to realize that its in adversity that development occurs. It's only through trials that we experience God's redemption. It's only through pain that we experience His healing touch. And it's only through heartache that we can truly appreciate His arms of love.

Prosperity creates a mirage of invincibility - a belief that everything will go right. But it's only when things go wrong that we realize what we truly possess.



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Better Things Ahead: The Intoxication of Prosperity

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The Intoxication of Prosperity