It’s time once again to celebrate our nation’s independence! Will you do so with parades, picnics, parties or prayers? Will you gather with family or friends or maybe spend some time alone? There is much to be thankful for and few things are of greater benefit than giving thanks whenever and however possible.
Yet what about the things that make us miserable? Our nation actually has a misery index and it can be found at www.miseryindex.us. In the early 1970s an economic adviser to President Johnson came up with the idea. Arthur Okun simply said to add the unemployment rate to the rate of inflation and the number would tell us how awful the nation felt. In May our number was 8.43. Compare that number to the highest, 21.98 in June of 1980, and the lowest, 2.97 in July of 1953.
There is, however, a serious flaw with the index of misery. It focuses on what is really only one factor, the economy. It uses tunnel vision to single out one part of the myriad joys of living in our land. When we narrow our pleasures and focus to only one part of life we can become obsessed and addicted and lose our happiness.
For example, consider the pleasures of riding a bike. It is fun to get outdoors, grab some sunshine, get some exercise, go fast, view the scenery, and feel the wind in your face.
But some serious bikers have narrowed their pleasure to one thing: going fast. And so one rider posted his downhill time on the website Strava. On a downhill stretch in the Berkeley Hills area near San Francisco, on a route with many blind curves and a speed limit for cars set at 30 mph he posted the course record achieving a top speed of 49.3 mph on his bike.
A few days later another Strava user posted a time that beat him by 4 seconds. He then repeated his attempt 13 days later. He lost control, hit an SUV, flew 40 feet through the air and died a few days later in the hospital. Narrowing his pleasures to only one thing led to an obsession that could not be satisfied.
So it is with our nation and with life. A person can become so consumed with one failure or one loss or one disappointment that he or she loses all joy. Tunnel vision closes in and sunshine disappears. It can happen in a marriage, a job, a relationship or even in something as big as an entire nation.
This July 4 let’s pray for a widening of our pleasures. Let’s pray for a vision that is capable of seeing the whole picture. Give thanks for the good and pray for help to see it and for help to make it through the bad.
The advice of the Bible is well worth hearing at any time of the year.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Rick Cupp is Minister of the Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 Kenai Spur Highway, 283-7682. Sunday Bible Classes are at 10:00 a.m.; Worship 11:15 a.m. Wednesday meal is at 6:15 p.m.; Worship at 7:00 p.m.