Friends, as I was driving to work at dawn, the sky was a haunting red color. Maybe you learned the old proverb from your Grandma or Grandpa, Mom or Dad: “Red Sky At Morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.” The dawn was red this morning; later in the day we had rain and wind, with the temperature dropping back to freezing.
Please stay with me for two minutes more. In 1990, the United Nations introduced a Human Development Index (HDI) that provides country-level data for a measure of well-being and socioeconomic growth:
- Life expectancy at birth to measure a population’s health and longevity.
- Adult literacy rate to measure knowledge and educational opportunity.
- A nation’s per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) as a measure of the standard of living.
Although the United Nations uses the HDI to compare countries, it can also be estimated at a more local level (state, county, etc.) using these three dimensions to compare the human development of communities within a specific country or state. Globally, the top HDI score was held by Norway (94.4) in 2014. The HDI for the United States was 91.4, or 5th overall. Within the U.S., Indiana ranks 39th, with an overall HDI of 53.2. In the 7 counties surrounding our Indiana home of Pendleton, the 2014 HDI scores were, in descending score order: Hancock (69.0), Tipton (61.4), Delaware (54.7), Shelby (52.7), Grant (49.9), Madison (47.8), and Henry (39.6). While the UN statistical methodology may not permit direct comparisons, the HDI scores for these Indiana counties were on par with the following developing nations, in descending score order: Palestine (68.6), Honduras (61.7), Madagascar (49.8), Uganda (48.4), and Guinea-Bissau (39.8)
Source: The Human Development of Indiana Counties, A Policy Perspective.
Deveraj S, Sharma S, Hicks MJ, Faulk D. Center for Business and Economic Research,
Ball State University, 2015.
Source: United Nations Development Program, Human Development Index Dataset, 2014.
What does that have to do with a Red Sky at Morning? Seven Indiana counties with the same UN HDI scores as a developing nation? We don’t need a weather report to see that the sky is red in our area almost every morning. Statistics like these make me want to shake our duly elected misrepresentatatives and/or candidates, of any party, and say “Stop sending jobs and money overseas. What is your plan for getting the US back on track, to build a better future for our country, our friends, our families, our children, and our grandchildren?”
Then, after a prayerful deep cleansing breath, the Creator calms me down and reminds me that political rabble-rousing isn’t the purpose of this blog. Instead, consider another guy whose sky was red every morning: the prophet Jeremiah. Sometimes he is known as the weeping prophet, because the sky was red every morning for him. He didn’t need a weather report to know that God was going to strike His people for abandoning Him and going their own way. Jeremiah’s heart was continually broken for the storm. He could see a coming siege, starvation, Jerusalem burning, and his friends and neighbors with their hands tied, being led into captivity with a fish hook on a string through their lips. Yet, in Jeremiah 33, God tells Jeremiah His plan for getting Judah and Israel back on track, His plan for building a better future.
“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from their captivity and will rebuild them as before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all the nations of the earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it. “ Jeremiah 33: 6-9 (NIV)
And what is the gate to this glorious path forward to all of the things He wants to do?
“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
Maybe the sky is red for you this morning; maybe it’s red every morning. Regardless of your circumstances, call to Him; He has the best of intentions and a plan, a very good plan.