There’s an upside to America’s financial mess.
No, I’m not suggesting that a $700 billion government bailout of ailing financial institutions is a good thing. Nor is the resulting depletion of Americans’ retirement portfolios, a deflated U.S. dollar, or the all-around gloomy economic forecast.
These are hard times, likely to get harder still.
Yet, there’s an upside to this mess.
True character tends to reveal itself, for better or worse, when we’re in crisis. And this crisis, however unpleasant, is a unique opportunity for Christians to consider, and put into practice, important truths often ignored when we’re prospering.
A few things come to mind:
First, let’s remember that God is in control, not us. It’s amazing how easy it is to speak of faith, but then organize our lives so that we have no need to depend upon God. It often takes a monumental change, such as the current financial earthquake, to show us that we’ve put our hope in something other than the Lord; money, for example, or perhaps government.
I’m no economist, but it’s interesting to me that as a nation we’ve deluded ourselves into believing that money and government can solve problems and meet needs that God alone can meet. Investments come and go; material prosperity is cyclical at best.
Today we have an opportunity to stop putting our hope in bull markets and sensible government – both of which seem to vacillate – and instead put our hope in God, “with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 – NKJV).
Secondly, let’s resolve to pray for our leaders. Yes, we’ve got to vote for either the red team or the blue team in November’s election, and that is no small decision. Maybe a blessing from this current crisis is that the ideas and capabilities of both teams will be better tested before the election. It’s our duty to scrutinize them now, measuring them against God’s truth, not sound bites or party affiliation.
But whoever wins office serves us ultimately because God has allowed them there, and they need our concerted prayers for wisdom, integrity, protection and resolve to govern rightly. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we find support for the common practice of honoring only those leaders with whom we agree. “Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God” (1 Timothy 2:2, CEV).
Thirdly, we ought to consider our own stewardship. It makes little sense to bemoan the financial recklessness of Wall Street and Capitol Hill when our own houses are not in order. Americans have uniformly bought the lie that material gain is a worthy goal that can be sustained indefinitely.
Money is like air. When you don’t have enough, it’s a pretty big deal. More than enough is unnecessary, even harmful. Money is a tool to meet needs and help others; we’ve made it an idol.
It’s a poor testimony for us to point an accusing finger at corporate America’s greed and stupendous debt if we’re fighting the same diseases personally.
Yes, this financial duress is a five-alarm fire. But we need not melt under its intensity. Each of us can decide whether some good comes out of it.
Tough times are opportunities to hit the reset button: trust in God; resolve to live rightly; reorder our priorities.
Christian friends, could it be that the very same adjustments we long to see our leaders make would serve you and I as well?