Yesterday I was wishing I could talk to my grandparents, all of whom were born around the dawn of the 20th century. I would love to ask them about how they lived in times of awful hardship. They were part of what we call “The Great Generation.” They lived through amazing change: the arrival of the automobile, electric power, modern medicine, among other things. They also lived through 2 World Wars and the Great Depression. Somehow through all of that they raised children that were 4 times more likely to be college educated, who enjoyed a higher standard of living than any previous generation.
It is not my intent to romanticize an era which had problems, too. Racism was a terrible and broadly accepted part of the nation. African Americans were excluded from power, denied access to wealth, and largely kept from justice. Women had few opportunities outside of the home. Imperfect? Yes, they were. But, in spite of hardships we find it hard to grasp, they created the America we know today.
Those who study that generation suggest common values that carried them through the adversities and created the prosperous nation we know.
They accepted personal responsibility for life.
They were humble, willing to do what was necessary.
They had an unbelievable work ethic and took great pride in what they did, many working at the same craft or job for their entire lives.
They were financially prudent, people who looked with skepticism on borrowing to get the latest gadget.
They were loyal, making and keeping commitments to family, church, and country.
Faith was a foundation for the majority of that generation. On the whole, their faith was much less focused on experiencing God and His blessings than ours is. God did not exist in their minds to make them happy, but rather to shape their thoughts and guide their actions. It is also true that the 2nd World War shook the religious traditions of many.
The questions caused thousands to leave the traditional churches of their families. This brought about leading to the rise of Evangelicalism that preached a personal God, that He could be known, and in Christ Jesus people could find transformation for their broken, sinful, human nature.
As we make our way through a time of crisis that has the potential to reshape America (it already is!) I hope we will not lose sight of what makes this country unique and great.
We might wish to take some lessons from the Great Generation.
First among them is the decision to return God to His rightful place in our lives. Before we cry for a return of our blessings, I believe we need to do some deep soul-searching, both individually and as a nation. We love to quote 2 Chronicles, focusing on the promise, largely forgetting the call. “At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or I might command locusts to devour your crops, or I might send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14, NLT)
That passage invites us to stop blaming others and to turn to God. He desires humility, that we set aside our entitlement mindset to seek HIM! He wants true repentance, not just regret. Repentance is about profound change. It is never easy, nor is it pleasant to let the Spirit of God disturb us so deeply that it transforms us, inside out. But, those things are keys to finding His wholeness both individually and as a country.
I cannot talk to my grandparents, they are all in Heaven, beyond this world of trouble.
But, I think these are some of the things they would say to me out of their experiences of tragic times and God’s faithfulness.
- The world is not about to end. The sooner you stop letting that narrative terrorize you, the better.
- The world is going to change. Life is not static, nor should we want that to be true.
- Growth means change.
My prayer is that we will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the foundation for an abundant life and life eternal.
Here is a word from the Word. It is rather lengthy. Take some time to meditate on these words of God today.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
(1 Peter 1:3-9, NIV)
My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed.
I trust the ever-living One
His wounds for me will plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea.
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.
Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.
– Lidie Edmunds, Public domain