Are you suffering from Lotto Fever?
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
While press coverage of the Azika virus has been gaining momentum, another disease is being grossly under-covered. It’s Lotto Fever. The chance to be an overnight billionaire has brought millions of people out of the woodwork in hopes of beating the infinitesimal odds against them. The higher the jackpot became, the more people decided to join in the hunt.
Most likely, every ticket sold represented a chance, however slim, at ending all of someone’s problems-a ticket out of an unfulfilling life or burdensome debt, or simply a chance to never have to work again. I imagine that most of the ticket holders had given some thought to how they would spend their fortune. But I wonder how many actually considered the cost of becoming that wealthy.
How Would Life Change?
I took some time one day to imagine just how my own life would change if my Wonka bar had the remaining golden ticket. It would indeed change, instantaneously. The publicity would catapult me to instant stardom. Everyone would know me as the big winner. The first thing I would have to do is to hire a financial manager to lead me through the celebrity jungle I was entering. The next thing would be to hire a security manager to keep me safe from all those out there who wanted a piece of my winnings. I would have to buy or build a house with all the latest security features known to man-physical and cyber. I would have to be sure that my new accounts couldn’t be hacked and that every possible contingency plan was in place.
That’s when things really got ugly. I’ve seen enough TV dramas to know that I’d have to protect my wife, kids, and grand-kids from kidnappers in search of a sizable ransom. People will do anything to keep their family safe, and the bad guys know it. At that point, I took a deep breath and tried to refocus on the positive. I imagined how the various ministries I am involved in could benefit from a sizable donation. That’s when I realized that I would be inundated with requests from all sorts of people, causes, and ministries. I would need to hire someone just to take care of sorting out those who “qualified.”
That’s when I wondered if I would actually be helping the ministries I support with a huge donation. Certainly, more funds would help, but at what point would I be making them more dependent on my “financial support” than on God. He accomplishes the greatest things when people are most dependent on Him.
Then there’s the impact on all my friends and even acquaintances. How would I share with them without damaging the relationships? Human nature, being what it is, would breed jealousy, envy, and who knows what else? If I gave a friend a nice chunk, it’s very possible that he or she would think it awfully small compared to what I had won. And how would I decide who should receive how much? The possibilities of this ending well were zero.
AS I SEE IT
That was as far as I needed to go with my little imaginary excursion. If God wanted me to be rich, He wouldn’t have given me the desire to do what I do. (This doesn’t mean I don’t want or need your financial help. I really do.) That’s when I remembered hearing the tragic stories of former lottery winners. Then I had an idea. I googled “People who won the lottery and lost it all.” If you play the lottery, I suggest you do the same. One of the sites I landed on told the story of 21 Lottery winners who had lost everything. Here are some brief accounts of two of them:
Lisa Arcand won $1 million in the Massachusetts lottery in 2004. She bought a house and went on vacations like many winners. Of course, a million dollars isn’t much after taxes, so she also opened a restaurant to make some additional income. Sadly, within a few years she ran out of money and closed the failing restaurant. In 2007, she said of her lottery experience, “Actually, it’s been very depressing.”
Michael Carroll was a garbage man in England when, at age 19, he won £9.7 million (about $14.4 million at the time) in the lottery in 2002. A mansion, drugs and gold jewelry ate up the money quickly. By 2012, Carroll was broke and living off unemployment checks. Now he works on an assembly line in a cookie factory, making £204 (about $300) per week.
I recently read the story of Gregory Burch Jr. who won nearly a half million playing the Georgia lottery. Not long after he received his winnings, he was murdered in his home by three armed and masked men… If only someone had warned us. Well, someone did:
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it.
When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens (Proverbs 23:4-5).
A faithful man will abound with blessings,
But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.
A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth
And does not know that want will come upon him (Proverbs 28:20,22).
Here’s the cure for Lotto Fever:
Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God (Proverbs 30: 8-9).
P.S. Not all lottery stories end like these, but too many do.
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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford.
Then I want to move in with them.
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