Ten Things 2011 Taught Us
With 2011 now about a month behind us, we can look back with a bit of perspective on what some of the last year’s top ten stories (according to non-scientific ranking) revealed to us, taught us, or reminded us:
The earth is the Lord’s. The 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 in Japan, followed by a tsunami and nuclear disaster, brought enormous human losses. And deadly tornadoes and endless days of triple-digit summer temperatures again reminded us that we rely on a perfect symphony of God’s providence for our safety.
Exorbitant debt enslaves. Remember when S&P devalued the U.S. after the eleventh-hour raising of the debt ceiling? It served as a reminder that the lender controls the borrower.
Work is a gift from God. Unemployment remaining stubbornly at 9.0 has a way of forcing us to recognize again that skilled, hard-working people can find themselves stuck at home sending endless resumes and updating their LinkedIn profiles ad nauseam. Steady income is not a “given.”
Greed leads to injustice. And money is the root of all sorts of evil. No matter what our opinion about Occupy Wall Street, the movement demonstrated what can happen when people feel disempowered and ripped off by those lacking in financial scruples.
Some things money can’t buy. The death of Steve Jobs to cancer at 56 reminded us that even if you’re about the most creative person on the planet and you have pretty much all the money a person could have in this world, you still can’t purchase your own life. You can’t spend enough on research to stop disease. And you can’t stop humanity’s greatest enemy: death. Only One conquered it, and he had no place to lay his head.
Life is sacred. We held our breaths awaiting news on the condition of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head at a public event. Oh, the value of one human, created in the image of God!
Power shifts. North Korea got a new president. And the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia, bringing down regimes in Egypt and Libya. Remember that pivotal statement, “Another king arose who knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8; Acts 7:18)? Only one government will last. Sadly, revolution rarely ushers in a more stable, sane form of rule.
Depending on how you define victory, love wins. But the discussion about it isn’t always loving. Of course I’m not referring to the royal wedding of Kate Middleton to Prince William. I’m alluding to the book by Michigan megachurch pastor Rob Bell.
When the wicked perish, people rejoice. The day U.S. commandos stormed Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound, Proverbs 11:10 showed up on many tweets and FB posts: “When the righteous do well, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there is joy.” The same verse got quoted again when Muhmar Qaddafi was killed. And when Kim Jong Il died.
The world as we know it will end. Now we’re on to the new year, when people already disagree about what we should expect on Dec. 21, 2012. That’s when the Maya's "Long Count" calendar marks the end of a 5,126-year era. Wait—we’ve seen this sort of date-setting before. How about that California evangelist Harold Camping, announcing the world will end in May. Or maybe or October. Or…? Perhaps in 2012 Jesus will indeed return on May 21. Or October 21. Or December 21. The big question is this: Will we be ready?