I recall with some amusement how my aunt Lydie and uncle Jara would rinse, and hang to dry, used zip-lock bags and used paper towels. Their pantry was lined with neatly stacked and labeled coffee jars, re-purposed for holding anything from flour to peanuts. They kept their air-conditioner set at an uncomfortable 80 degrees or more Fahrenheit. And despite living solely off of Social Security in their retirement years they managed to pay all of their bills, send money to numerous charities, buy gifts for their relatives special occasions, and amass a sizable nest-egg in the bank. They were very frugal.
My wife’s mother, while not to the extremes of my aunt and uncle, would wash and reuse plastic ‘solo’ cups. She was careful about every penny that she spent.
Why did that generation live that way?
Because they remembered.
Hear this, you leaders of the people! Everyone listen! In all your history, has anything like this ever happened before? Tell your children about it in the years to come. Pass the awful story down from generation to generation. – Joel 1:2-3
They remembered what it was like to be in severe want. They lived through the world-wide great depression. Nothing like it had ever happened in their or their relatives memories. My aunt and uncle and my mother-in-law were just children when hunger and joblessness washed over the nations of the world like a flood. They knew what it was like to go to bed hungry. And they determined that with whatever power they had within them they would save and conserve for those days and times when they might be in need again. Interestingly, despite their thrifty ways, one thing that all of them shared was that anyone who came to their homes never left hungry.
Why do we know about their struggles? Because they did pass the awful story down from their generation to the next. They warned us. They showed us how they lived.
Sadly we did not listen well. It appears as though the world is slowly being swallowed up in another flood of hunger and joblessness. And we have not prepared for our rainy day as we should have, debt is at astonishing levels. Savings are abysmal. How bad does it have to get before we heed Joel’s warning?
Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and all the people into the Temple of the LORD your God, and cry out to him there. – Joel 1:14
He warned the people not to taunt them, but to show them the way out. God is not capricious, he truly desires the best for us. Even in the opening statement of Joel’s prophetic condemnation to the people there was hope. Or did you not notice that the people were told to “tell your children” and pass it down “from generation to generation”? If they were going to be wiped out by hunger, enemies and disease there would be no children or generations to which knowledge could be passed down.
Father, forgive us for our flagrant consumerism, our disregard for principles of saving and sharing which you clearly spell out in your word. Please heal our land, restore your hand of blessing once again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What was I writing about? Jan