February 22nd, 2014| Topic: RaMbLeS | 7


It’s a nice fantasy. You walk into a gas station, give up a dollar, buy one of those tickets, and you win a huge lottery! Now you can buy your own island in the tropics and your own NBA team! Nice!

(That fingers-crossed blue logo is that of U.K.’s National Lottery.)

Last December the Mega Millions payoff in the U.S. was $648 million, just $8 million short of the record set in a March 202 drawing.

The Mega Millions website gives you the odds of hitting the jackpot: 1 in 258,890,850. Astronomical.

In comparison, here are things far more likely to happen:

Crushed to death under a snack-vending machine: 1 in 112,000,000.
Having identical quadruplets: 1 in 15,000,000.
Become the U.S. President: 1 in 10 million
Dying from bee, hornet, or wasp stings: 1 in 6,000,000.
Dying in a plane crash: 1 in 1,000,000.
Getting struck by lightning: 1 in 1,000,000.
Expiring in your bathtub: 1 in 850,000.
Being murdered: 1 in 18,000
Annihilated in an asteroid apocalypse: 1 in 12,500
Dying in a car accident: 1 in 6,500.

(Watch out as you drive to the store to purchase that lottery ticket.)

Tell that to the millions of fantasizers and dreamers lining up to buy Mega Millions tickets. What makes folks think that their $1 investment will yield staggering wealth? Fantasy, and the bigger the fantasy, the more hopeful we get.

Goldbart and DiFuria, in a piece in Psychology Today, label this “Lottery-itis.” This affliction is a means of coping in times of economic stress with financial anxieties and uncertainties. They write:

We may seek a magic pill to make us feel better. Ah yes, buy a lottery ticket. Feel again like you did when you were a child, having hope that a better day will come, that some big thing will happen that will make everything right, set the course on track.”

Hey, you might wake up and be an millionaire, even if the odds are against you.

George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, says that people don’t really understand probabilities. Once you have a bunch of zeroes, it doesn’t matter how many you have—1 in 10,000, 1 in 1,000,000, 1 in 1,000,000,000. And, if it happened to someone last time, why not to me now?

Here’s Loewenstein:

When people are desperately sick, there’s always a part of the brain that thinks there will be a miracle cure. If you want something to be true, your brain is awfully good at figuring out reasons, magical ones, that there’s a good likelihood that it is true. The desire to win does drive a certain kind of frenzied optimism.”

Everyone hopes!

But the Bible says that true hope is sourced in one Person alone.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
My salvation and my God.
Psalm 42:5, 11

Protector, Defender, Sustainer, Savior!

Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us,
For we have hoped in You.
Psalm 33:20, 22

And this is not a wishful dream, but a concrete expectation, hope that has become faith.

Now faith is being sure of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

This trustworthy and faithful God is worthy of our faith!

Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD.
Psalm 31:24

So save that $1. Lay aside fantasies. Hope in God!


  1. Dave M February 23, 2014 at 7:46 am

    One hope for now and in a eternal future without probabilities of possible success, just a certainty. We have it all with the Lord. Thanks for the reminder. I suppose that is what preachers are all about, those necessary reminders.

    Happy belated birthday brother!

  2. Eric February 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Thanks again, Abe. Come to think of it, hoping in anything else other than God shows our lack of faith in His awesome power and love.

    I remember that when I was a co-op student in Boston back in the late 70s, I saw billboards in the subway that typically show a person with a low-wage job, say, a waitress. There was a smile on the face. And the headline is something like “Do you know what is going for me today?” They were ads for lottery as well.

    Even for folks like me who are way better off financially, sometimes I feel drawn to the freedom I will gain if I don’t need to earn a living. Yet I know life is not about my freedom but the fulfillment of God’s purpose. It is also about contentment in Him, which reminds me of folks we met in Ecuador. They had little beyond food and shelter, yet they were joyful. They were contented in God’s goodness.

    Hope in the Lord, from now and forevermore!

    • Abe Kuruvilla February 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks, Eric.

      I’m always struck by the wisdom of Prov 30:8-9.

      • Eric February 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

        Agree! Not having to watch the numbers does bring its own peril. Certainly a lack of the so-called financial freedom is our faithful tutor in trusting in the God who provides.

        Often I do feel that it is a fine line between faith in God and personal irresponsibility. However, I do know that if I start to worry, I have already strayed too far from Him. And the red flag goes up. 🙂

        • Abe Kuruvilla February 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm

          I think Christian responsibility means doing my best, but at the same time recognizing that it is God who gives me the power, the grace, and the wherewithal to accomplish anything (Eph 2:10; Phil 2:13; John 15:50 and also Eph 3:16; Phil 4:13; Col 1:9-11; etc.).

          Dangers exist on either side: Assuming I don’t have to do anything (“God is doing it all”) = presumption. Assuming that I have to do everything (“God won’t help me”) = unfaith.

      • Eric February 24, 2014 at 10:07 pm

        Thanks again, Abe, especially for the Scriptural references.


Share Your Thoughts

Copyright © 2012 Homiletix  |  Blog theme by ThemeShift customized by Gurry Design  |  Full sitemap