When I was a boy my father used to quote poetry to me that he had learned as a high school student during the early days of Southwestern. One poem particularly impressed me: Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson . . .
Whenever Richard Cory went down town, / We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown, / Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed, / And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said, / "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king— /And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything / To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light, / And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, / Went home and put a bullet through his head.
It is not the sadness of his suicide that has stayed with me, but the profound truth that the wealthy can be as hopelessly lost in sin as anyone else. In response to a critic who said that Robinson did "not have a happy outlook on life, but seemed to think it was a prison house," Robinson replied, "The world is not a prison house, but a kind of spiritual kindergarten, where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell God with the wrong blocks." There are many people in every town who appear to be successful—to “have it all”—but they are trying to find ultimate happiness apart from the Gospel truths that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and that His son Jesus has freely offered to us the only way to be forgiven, transformed, and assured of a home in Heaven. In your community there are certainly “down & out” people you doubtless pray for and minister to. And I know that many of you intercede as you drive through impoverished neighborhoods and pray for the at-risk people (especially the children) who are trapped there. But there are also “up & out” folks like Richard Cory in your town, and they need our prayers just as much as anyone. When we drive through their neighborhoods, we often do so simply to admire their houses. My challenge to you is to go back to these posh parts of town specifically to pray for those ensnared by the dangers of great wealth. The devil is at work on every street. Shouldn’t we be too?
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