During the Depression, Charles Darrow was an out-of-work salesman who lived in Germantown, Pennsylvania. His wife was expecting a baby. He did odd jobs to pay his bills in those dark days after the stock market crash of 1929. But it wasn't enough. Life was hard.
When Charles was a boy, he spent summers on the Jersey shore in Atlantic City. As an adult, he remembered those happy times to encourage himself. One night, he drew a map of the streets of Atlantic City on his kitchen table and fanaticized about being rich. For his "properties," he carved miniature houses and hotels out of bits of wood that he put on the streets of his map. Charles formulated this board game to play with family and friends.
Many nights, his neighbors and family sat around Charles' kitchen table to buy, rent and sell real estate, trading vast sums of play money. Many people wanted copies of the game to play at home so he sold copies of his board game for four dollars each. Soon Charles was making sets and selling them to department stores in Philadelphia.
Orders for the game poured in. Charles Darrow wrote to the Parker Brothers who then produced and sold other board games on a national basis. But Parker Brothers turned Charles down so he continued to manufacture the game on his own.
Charles Darrow hired a printer friend to produce five thousand copies. He sold them to several department stores including F. A. O. Schwarz in New York City. One person who bought the game was the daughter of Parker Brothers' founder, George Parker. She told Sally Barton how much fun the game was. Sally Barton was the wife of Robert B. Barton, then president of Parker Brothers. And she told her husband.
Mr. Barton offered to buy the game and give Charles royalties on all games sold. Darrow accepted. Within one month of signing an agreement with Darrow in 1935, Parker Brothers started producing over 20,000 copies of the game per week. Darrow's game is one of the most popular board games even today. If you haven't guessed it already, the game is called "Monopoly."
The royalties from Monopoly made Charles Darrow and his family millions. In 1970, a few years after Darrow's death, Atlantic City erected a commemorative plaque in his honor. It stands on the Boardwalk, near the corner of Park Place.
I tell you that story to encourage you who are out-of-work and those who need extra money to put bread on the table. I don't know whether Charles Darrow was a Christ-follower or not. But his story brings up ten lessons for us all of us:
1. Have faith that believes God will supply
. Philippians 4:19 says: "But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus." See hard times as an opportunity to trust God. Read how God used the ravens to feed Elijah in 1 Kings 17:1-7. Read the story of Elisha and the widow who was out of food and had no money in 2 Kings 4. David gave this testimony from his own life in Psalms 37:25: "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." God still provides, folks! You can still trust Him for your needs. He won't let you down!
2. See your problems as blessings in disguise
. Remember that hard times are when God does His best work. Just as plants renew themselves in a frosty winter, God often uses hard times to renew and revamp. During the 1930s when things were hard, new industries such as consumer electronics and plastics were created. The 1930s became a period of intense innovation and experimentation. Just across the Bay from our church is a non-descript garage where David Packard and William Hewlett began their company during the Depression. Howard Johnson's was a single restaurant until 1932 when they began franchising and it grew to 107 locations by 1939. Boeing created the first modern airliner, the 247, in 1933, at the worst of the Depression. Hormel introduced its canned chili in 1936 and created Spam in 1937 while the Depression was in full swing. More than anybody, Christians know that God uses suffering to bring out blessing. So, believe it! See your hard time as a blessing to reinvent yourself, to branch out, or to start something new for God.
3. Rely on God's strength to get to work
. Too often we get too discouraged and too tired to work. God spoke to Moses in the desert of Midian. While hiding in caves and running for his life, David found God's inspiration for some of his most profound psalms. It was in the lion's den that Daniel found God the closest. Remember that the Apostle Paul was in jail when God inspired him to write Philippians 4:13 which says: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." You have the resources of heaven and the power of God already at your disposal. God's grace is the most abundant when life seems the hardest. So, trust God to get you through. Claim God's promises, act like a King's Kid, and appropriate God's rule over the negativity and the uncertainty.
4. Have initiative and put feet to your prayers
. James 1:22 says: "faith without deeds is useless." So, take action! Grab your life and your circumstances by the throat and make it happen for God. Just read the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 to see how people didn't just talk about faith - they lived it. Let's join this great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12 and honor God!! Apply for jobs, get your resume out there, use your contacts, and get busy. Trusting God does not mean that you are supposed to do nothing. Trusting God means that God is your partner as you look for a job.
5. Have hope to see God's blessings ahead
. Despair and panic never solve anything. Whining and complaining don't pay the bills. Don't be like Israelites of Exodus, when they moaned and groaned. When we grumble, we abandon hope. Remember Romans 5:5 says: "hope does not disappoint us ..." So, have hope!! Our word "enthusiasm" comes from two Greek words: en means "in" and theos means "God." So a person who is enthusiastic is someone who is "in God." Enthusiasm comes to those who have a relationship with God. So, hope in the Lord! Potential employers are attracted to people who are enthusiastic, cheerful and have hope. Let hope permeate your walk, your talk, and your face. Hebrews 11:1 says: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
6. Have perseverance to endure until God provides
. One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is Galatians 6:9 which says: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Don't let gloom and doom stop you! Why not be one of the entrepreneurs with bright ideas, lots of determination, and Christian values to build the next corporate giant of the 2020s and 2030s?
7. Use your God-given skills so that God might provide
. God has given you gifts and abilities. You just have to put them to work. Find something at which you excel. Then polish that skill until you are good at it. There is always room for new ways of doing something or there is always room at the top. Proverbs 22:29 says:
"Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men."
Imagination, innovation, and initiative are given to everybody by God, so use them to the glory of God.
8. Pray for wisdom
. Ask God to give you eyes to see what is needed in the future. James (1:5) says: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Stanley Tam, the founder of US Plastics, wrote a wonderful book called God Owns My Business. Mr. Tam, a born-again Christian, told how he gave his business to God and prayed about every decision. In fact, he literally changed the incorporation papers on his company so God was named as the legal owner. Mr. Tam sought God's wisdom for his fledgling company and that made all the difference. You do that too - make God the owner of your life, your career, and business. Since God is the owner, ask Him for guidance and help for every need and every decision.
9. Commit to hard work and discipline to make it happen
. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might ..." Read all the references to laziness in the book of Proverbs (6:6,9; 10:26; 13:6: 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30; 26:13-16). Then read all the Proverbs that point to the rewards of hard work and discipline. Proverbs 12:14 says: "From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him." Proverbs 14:23 says: "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." Combine these promises with your own labor and discipline. Then, watch how God will bless you!
10. Be strong and courageous
. Don't let worry and fear get to you. When Joshua faced a huge task and impossible odds, God told Joshua (1:9) these words: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." God is saying the same to me and to you. Hard times are God's call to be just like Joshua. Joshua didn't see the obstacles but the opportunities of the Promised Land. We have to be like that! Don't see the problems but see the provision of God! Be strong in the power of God's might! Have courage to face these times with God's help.
Oh, one last thing! You need worship to help you do all this! Each week, we use music, fellowship, and Scripture to give you the tools to handle life with the power of God. Every Sunday, I try to give you a prep talk about God, faith, and how to live a committed life to Christ. Our children's ministries, our adult class, our Bible studies, and our fellowship are designed to help you in your personal life and walk with God.