A few days ago I was travelling on business and stopped into a gas station to refill the car and grab something to snack on. I picked out my favorites - a cold Coca Cola and some of those yummy Mini Sweet Tarts. I took my place in line to check out, which happened to be about three places back. I waited patiently, leisurely contemplating just how much longer it would be until I arrived home. Some time passed and I realized the line wasn't moving. A little unusual for a convenience store - the idea is to be quick and 'convenient.' So, I started to pay attention to what or who was holding up the line.
I want you to picture with me an older lady, maybe in her 50s. Her hair is graying and is pulled back in a messy ponytail. She looks as though she has worked hard, physically, in her life - might be a farmer's wife, maybe loves to garden. Basically, her appearance portrays that she has spent a credible amount of time outside and things have not always come easy for her. My superficial impression is that she works hard and struggles to stay caught up. Now, please bare in mind, that this is only an impression, and could be incredibly far from the truth.
As I begin to listen to the conversation she is having with the attendant, I realize what is keeping the line from moving. She is trying to exchange out her lottery tickets and the process isn't going so smoothly. It appears as though she gave the attendant a winning scratch-off ticket and is asking for more in return. Although, what she is asking for and what the attendant is giving her isn't matching - there's a miscommunication, confusion. She starts to look around her and realizes she is holding up the line. She becomes nervous, maybe embarrassed, and the desperation in her voice becomes transparent as she reiterates her wants to the cashier. I'm watching her, the gentleman in front of me is watching her, and the folks behind me are watching her. She scurries to make the transaction and eventually is satisfied and walks away.
I'm not sure what the others around were thinking and I have no idea how the attendant viewed her, but I know how I felt that day as I watched her walk out of the store and climb into her car. She probably thought as I watched her that I was judging her, maybe even condemning her, but the truth is... my heart was breaking for her. I was filled with compassion towards this lady and the many others just like her who have fallen victim to the lies of the lottery - falsely believing in the hope that the next winner really could be them and upon winning, all of their struggles and financial hardships would disappear and happiness would miraculously abound. I stood there that day and sit here now, realizing, that if it weren't for the grace of God, that could be me - it could be any one of us. And so, my negativity towards the lottery grows even greater.
The Lottery supporters and promoters work extremely hard to convince the American people that lotteries benefit our country - through education, government funding, entertainment, etc. And I'll admit, I am not knowledgeable enough to know how the system works, nor do I care to delve in enough to find out the actual financial workings of the façade. But, what I do know is that God doesn't approve, and I consider that enough for me. His Word plainly says that:
Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. ~ Proverbs 13:11
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. ~ 1 Timothy 6:10Even more than believing that God doesn't approve, my disregard stems from the pure logistics of it all. The government claims to be helping those less fortunate but are essentially alluring those they are trying to help into funding it. It seems contradictory to me - sell the one in a million chance of winning to those who really can't afford to even play the lottery (not that anyone can really 'afford' to play). But it's like robbing from the poor - the government takes advantage of the ones that are in the most need because logically they are the ones more likely to play, all while advising that people "play responsibly."
And on the one in a million chance you win, will it really solve all of your problems or bring happiness? I'm pretty sure there is a television show out there that focuses on how winning actually became a curse instead of a blessing for a number of individuals who were 'winners'.
Am I saying that a group of co-workers shouldn't go in on a $5 ticket just for fun? Not necessarily, I think that's up to each individual and their personal convictions. But I do know that God commands us to be wise with what He has given us, and I'm pretty sure He wouldn't appreciate my putting dollar after dollar towards a lie that takes advantage of those who may be less fortunate - He'd prefer I give the same dollar to local charities that help clothe and feed those in need instead.
I am convicted as I write this. I am reminded of how blessed we really are and of how good God has been to us. And even fearful, because I know how quickly things can change. Job is a prime example - the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. And who am I to say anything about any of this? I'm no one, nobody. I can only evaluate me, I can only examine myself. I only ask that if you've read this far, you consider the fallacy of it all.
As always, thanks for reading.
August 29, 2013
Although this was not in response to a direct question, it's one I've been faced with a number of times - So, I am considering it a part of the Ask Kate Series.