How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
How like a widow is she,
Who was great among the nations!
The hope of freedom among the principalities
Has become a slave to iniquity!
She weeps bitterly in the night,
Her tears are on her cheeks;
Among all her lovers
She has none to comfort her.
All her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
They have become her enemies.
America has gone into captivity,
Under affliction and hard servitude;
She dwells among the nations,
She finds no rest;
All her persecutors overtake her in dire straits.
Her adversaries have become the master,
Her enemies prosper;
For the Lord has afflicted her
Because of the multitude of her transgressions.
Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy.
And from the daughter of Providence
All her splendor has departed.
Her entrepreneurs have become like deer
That find no pasture,
That flee without strength
Before the pursuer.
In the days of her affliction and roaming,
Washington remembers all her pleasant things
That she had in the days of old.
When her people fell into the hand of the enemy,
With no one to help her,
The adversaries saw her
And mocked at her downfall.
America has sinned gravely,
Therefore she has become vile.
All who honored her despise her
Because they have seen her nakedness;
Yes, she sighs and turns away.
Her uncleanness is in her skirts;
She did not consider her destiny;
Therefore her collapse was awesome;
She had no comforter.
“O Lord, behold my affliction,
For the enemy is exalted!”
– a portion of Lamentations 1, personalized
America is fiscally the richest nation on Earth still, but she is spiritually poor. Our gates and defenses are broken, our leadership fights against us, and our people have forgotten how God lifted us up to be a blessing to our neighbors and the world. We are distracted by the pursuit of things and the keeping of pleasures from seeing the work and responsibility of pursuing true happiness.
Our relative comfort blinds us most of the time from our true poverty. Economists and historians of civilizations can see the clear signs of a civilization in decline. Last year China’s GDP overtook the US as the world’s largest economy (obviously per capita GDP is nowhere close because of the sheer difference in population), but few are talking about the differences of mechanism that have brought that difference – and how the rate of relative decline in America is only increasing.
Smart observers know that if it were not for the computer and internet revolution that started in the 70s, our economy would have been choked out long ago by big government and the incapacitation of private institutions decades ago. Our poverty would have been apparent. If you could see America’s industries like a tree, you would see all the branches dead except one new branch loosely called “digital technology,” which has brought all of the new growth we’ve had and the only innovations for many years.
My goal in these few minutes is not to prove America’s spiritual poverty, but declare it, and confess my feeble response to it. The prophet of Lamentations writes,
My eyes fail with tears,
My heart is troubled;
My bile is poured on the ground
Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
Because the children and the infants
Faint in the streets of the city.
They say to their mothers,
“Where is grain and wine?”
As they swoon like the wounded
In the streets of the city,
As their life is poured out
In their mothers’ bosom. – Lamentations 2:11-12
Am I lamenting America’s millions of aborted children killed in their own mother’s bodies who were designed to nurture them? Am I lamenting generation after generation of young people enslaved to pleasure from before they can decide for themselves – relying on the handouts of others, yet hating the hands the hands that provide it? Am I lamenting the gross injustices of the law where evildoers are rewarded and the good are punished for their goodness?
Why am I not on my knees? Is it because I have food, heat, and a safe family? Where is my heart? My nation is broken, but I am not.
Every time I hear these words written to a city long ago, I know that they apply directly to America:
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” – Revelations 3:17-21