He literally saved millions of people from starvation. He did so twice, leading food relief efforts after World War I and World War II.
In Finland, his work rescuing people from starvation was so noble, his last name became a verb, meaning “to help.”
It was because of his heart for humanity, not to mention his amazing administrative ability and his unselfish devotion to serving his fellow man, that he was elected president of the United States in 1928.
Tragically, just a few months into office, the stock market crashed (the fault of which was not his own) and the Great Depression began.
He was audacious in attempting to address the needs of people, creating many new programs. Yet, struggling with a recalcitrant Congress, he made little headway in alleviating the Great Depression. For this reason, he was thrown out of office in the election of 1932.
Sadly, during the Great Depression, his name took on a different connotation here in the United States than it did in Finland. It morphed into a word describing locations where poor people lived. Decades later, a popular musical, “Annie”, would casually ridicule him in their songs.
When it comes to judging a man, society does not always get it right. Unfortunately, popular culture sometimes brands a person in an unfair way that does not reflect truth when describing a person's overall life.
This was certainly the case with Herbert Hoover. Herbert Hoover was a compassionate man who served humanity for over 90 years. One event overshadowed him. He became identified with it, and that became his legacy.
I think that is sad. History seems unconcerned with my sympathy.
Strangely enough, Scripture sometimes seems unconcerned about the legacy of God’s people, but here is the catch. In the Bible, God is held as the standard. Humans are viewed as flawed beings, especially when compared with God. In the Bible, there is God—then there is everyone else.
The Bible has no qualms about sharing personal information concerning God's community of faith. Today, were we preachers to relate similar flaws at someone’s funeral, people would gasp and consider it in bad taste.
God’s word does not share our unease. You can check out the legacies of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Peter to name a few. You have the good, and you have the awfully ugly.
God's word is not concerned about burnishing the reputation of the people of the Bible; rather, it is more concerned about elevating and glorifying the name of God.