Dr. Jim Denison

Winning the lottery

The odds of winning the last Powerball jackpot were one in 292.2 million. You were more likely to be killed by an asteroid (one in 700,000), be struck by lightning while drowning (one in 183 million), or give birth to quadruplets (one in 729,000).

If you are like most of us, you like imagining what you would do if you won the lottery. Here is the ironic part: compared to most of the people who have ever lived, you already have.

You are living in the most prosperous time in human history. As Yuval Harari notes, GDP in America grew between 1950 and 2000 from $2_trillion to $12 trillion. Real per capita income has doubled. Has all this prosperity made us happier? Not at all. Studies show that our subjective well-being levels are the same as they were in the 1950s.

Depression is such an epidemic today that a San Francisco company has created a "chatbot" (a computer program) to talk to people needing counselling. Alcohol abuse is much more common among the wealthy than the poor.

My point is that happiness has never depended on wealth and never will. In fact, "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils" (1 Timothy 6:10). That is why we are warned to "keep your life free from love of money" (Hebrews 13:5).

But using money for the right purposes redeems its potential.

As an end, it is dangerous. As a means, it can be transformative.

The question is not what you would do if you won the lottery. It is what you will do with what you already have. Thomas Chalmers said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive, and therefore less blessed to receive than to give."

How blessed will you be today?

<< Lessons from a Dachsie (Part 8)
Independence Day - a poem >>