As a baby boomer, I grew up during some of the most prosperous times in the US. I’ve reaped many benefits including a well-rounded college education, comfortable homes with heat and air conditioning, dependable cars, a closet full of clothes, access to top-notch medical care, and food aplenty. To the vast majority of people who live around this world, just having food, clothing, and shelter is a blessing. We’ve been blessed with far more than what we need. We know there are many upsides to prosperity, but are there downsides as well?
I’ve lived long enough to experience all the positives, but I’ve also lived long enough to experience some of the negatives. Listed below are my top five downsides to prosperity I’ve discovered through the School of Hard Knocks.
We tend to forget God and depend less on Him.
When all our needs are met, we take our blessings for granted and expect that things will always be this way. Think again. Our nation has prospered for 247 years. The average civilization lasts 200 years according to historian, Arnold Toynbee. There is a rise and fall in every civilization. When a nation becomes prosperous, it’s inevitable that it will begin to slide down the infamous slippery slope. What made our nation great—our faith in God—is no longer practiced by most people. Our prosperity makes us independent.
You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.
Deuteronomy 8: 17-18
We become complacent.
Complacency is a feeling of quiet pleasure or security even though signs of danger are all around. Look around us. We see rioting, political parties at polar opposites, a diminishing work ethic, government institutions with political agendas, citizens disillusioned with elected officials, inflation on steroids, and immorality growing like aggressive cancer. Yes, even when we see things all around causing our nation to crumble, we ignore the signs as long as we are basking in prosperity.
As Chuck Colson said in his book The Good Life, “We have come to see money as the key to pleasure, and pleasure as the key to happiness.” He also expressed that as long as we are prosperous and at peace, we won’t shake the status quo to do anything.
We become sedentary.
With our growing dependence on technology and so many inventions doing the work for us, we have become sedentary. In fact, we can often work from home adding new meaning to “couch potato.” We forget that our body needs to move to thrive and maintain good health. This sedentary lifestyle is the “new smoking.” It opens the door to many diseases including cancer, heart disease, and dementia. This lazy living is a known risk factor for every disease we encounter. And what do we do about it? We either find ways to exercise daily or we succumb to indolence.
We become materialistic.
Have you noticed . . .There is never enough! We always want more. Every commercial entices the greed in us to “have it all.” We forget to be thankful for the simple things in life. We spend our lives accumulating lots of stuff that we don’t need. Scam artists appear everywhere and play on our emotions and desires, and you don’t know who to trust. A totally materialistic society is one where greed rules the day, and character is trampled by a “gotta have it all” mentality. National debt and individual debt increase daily. Who would’ve ever thought our nation would be over 32 TRILLION dollars in debt? In addition, US households have a combined total debt of 16.5 trillion. Individually that comes to about $165,000 per household. According to Experion, only 25% of Americans have no debt.
We live to eat.
Instead of planning our diet to enhance our health, we live in the “food a-plenty world” where we grab whatever satisfies our cravings and addictions. As a result, we eat lots of high-calorie foods that contain little nutrients. This results in high obesity rates (about one-third) in the US and high overweight rates (about one-third) in the US and opens the door for many chronic diseases. We are one of the few nations in the world where proportionately more people are overweight than not. As a result, we have high rates of heart disease, cancers, brain disease, and over 100 autoimmune disorders. Many of these diseases are related to our lifestyle, not genetics. When diagnosed with one of these diseases, the last place we look is at our diet. If one of our doctors dares to mention, “You might want to curb your eating,” we’re offended and likely not to return.
Abraham Lincoln made three proclamations. This came from his second Proclamation for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting during the most difficult days of the Civil War.
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power, as no other nation has ever grown, But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Here we have history repeating itself. When I read his words, they give me chills. How could we ever forget God? Yet, here we are again. We desperately need God in our world. It grieves me that we are living in a post-Christian world. My father, Harry Dent, use to call this out-of-control prosperity “affluenza.” We are all suffering from too much of a good thing. Let us not forget that all blessings and prosperity come from His hands. And we do best when we realize that our prosperities are given to be used for His glory—not ours. Prosperity requires accountability and responsibility and is not a license for greed, selfishness, and addictions. Yes, there are five downsides to prosperity. We’re seeing it more each day. Lord, help us to turn back to you. It’s from YOU all blessings come.
What downsides do you see from our prosperity? In the next post, we’ll look at five ways we are living to eat instead of eating to live.
For Your Health,
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Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Unleash Your God-Given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer was released in May 2020 after her journey with cancer and was recently awarded the First Place Golden Scrolls Award for Memoirs, and Second Place in both Selah Awards for Memoirs and Director’s Choice Award for Nonfiction at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. It recently received the Christian Authors Network’s (CAN) Gold Award for Excellence in Marketing for reaching 62.5 million people with a message of cancer prevention and survival. It was written with commentary from an oncologist and was featured on CBN’s Healthy Living Show, Atlanta Live, and CTN’s Homekeepers along with over 75 media outlets. Learn more and cancer and wellness prevention blog and book information at www.ginnybrant.com.