15 April, 2024

THROWBACK THURSDAY: ‘Thank God for the Depression’ (1933)

by | 16 November, 2023 | 0 comments

At Thanksgiving time in 1933, Christian Standard asked more than two dozen Christian leaders to briefly share why they are thankful. 

As a reminder, this was during the Great Depression. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum website sets the scene this way:  

At the height of the Depression in 1933, 24.9% of the nation’s total work force, 12,830,000 people, were unemployed. Wage income for workers who were lucky enough to have kept their jobs fell 42.5% between 1929 and 1933. It was the worst economic disaster in American history. 

Here are responses from five of those leaders from Nov. 25, 1933 (p. 6). 

_ _ _

Crisis Intensifies Calm in the Christian Soul 

By Rupert C. Foster
Professor of New Testament, Cincinnati Bible Seminary, Cincinnati, O. 

The same fundamental grounds for thanksgiving prevail on Nov. 30, 1933, as have obtained through many centuries. The present crisis with its world-wide strife, bitterness, confusion, terror, doubt, misery and despair only intensifies the calm in the soul of the Christian who “endures as seeing him who is invisible.” . . . 

For “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 

_ _ _

We Still Have Freedom and God Is Still God 

By Orval M. Morgan 
Minister, Church of Christ, Albia, Iowa 

The American people should be thankful to God in this Thanksgiving season because they enjoy in this land the objectives set forth in the first Thanksgiving. It is all too true that they have in many instances lost sight of these ideals and often the day is grossly misappropriated, yet unconsciously the ideals of freedom of speech, will and worship have been attained and are being kept sacred for us to enjoy. 

Why not be thankful this year? What are a few years of depression when compared to God’s eternity? What of a few lean years with all their hardships? God is still God; Christ is still the Saviour of the world; the Holy Spirit our Comforter; prayer our privilege and the Bible our open Book. We should be thankful that God has not left us alone, but He has been our constant stay and shield, and that through it all we may know that He is guiding us. 

Yes, America should be thankful this year above all other years. 

_ _ _ 

At Its Worst, Life in America a Paradise by Comparison 

By Frederick D. Kershner
Dean of College of Religion, Butler University, Indianapolis, Ind. 

Citizens of the United States may sometimes consider themselves unfortunate, but that is primarily because they do not know how well off they are. At its worst, life here is a paradise compared with what it is in most other countries on the globe. Think of living in Germany today, with only one church to attend, one political party to vote for, and one type of propaganda to read. Two of my best friends, who happen to be citizens of other countries, but who have recently lived in America and have gone abroad, have just written me that they want to come back and apply for American citizenship. The fact is that if there is any group of people on the face of the earth who ought to be whole-heartedly and thoroughly grateful this year, it is those of us who have the privilege of living and working under the Stars and Stripes.  

_ _ _ 

Renew the Covenant of Loyalty to the Giver 

By John J. Castleberry
Minister of Walnut Hills Christian Church, Cincinnati, O. 

It is impossible to review the past year without at least a tinge of disappointment. I am thinking here of the continued depression cycle, the distress of the unemployed, and the apparent breakdown in the moral conviction of the nation as witnessed by the clamor for liquor. To most of us these things are discouraging. 

But, even so, God has been exceedingly good to the American people. Nature has smiled upon us with the superabundance of its bounties. There have been vast crops of wheat and corn and other necessities of life. No great catastrophe has swept upon us. We have been singularly free from the ravages of disease, and the general health has been better and the death toll lighter than in former years. Certainly the economic skies are clearing and millions of our people returning to work. And in time the country will recover its lost sanity and moral idealism. 

Yes, God is in His heaven, and things will yet come right with His world. Let us at this Thanksgiving time renew our covenant of loyalty to the Giver of all good gifts, and go forward with gratitude and undimmed faith.  

_ _ _  

Glorious Chance to Live 

By Harlan C. Runyan
Minister of Christian Church, Latonia, Ky. 

As an American and Christian, I am thankful to be alive today. It is good to live any time, anywhere, but it is gloriously good to be alive here and now. Never was there greater chance to serve, to cheer, to help! What a chance for Christians everywhere to live the life, to show the faith, to prove the hope and exemplify to all the world the principles of the Christian religion. And what a chance for the preacher—the torch-bearer of light in this darkened beclouded world. What a chance to fling into this maelstrom of confusion—this chaos of doubt and uncertainty—the ringing, reassuring and triumphant Word of the living God. 


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