Home   Confirmation Program  Pictures   Bible Study   Announcements

Youth Group   Music   Offerings   Archives   Links of Interest to Lutherans

Vol. 80 - No. 3
March 2009

WORD FROM THE PASTOR:             

Dealing with the Economic Downturn

I don’t know much about economics–that’s been a blind spot in my education. So I can’t pretend to give intelligent analysis and advice about the current state of our economy. To be honest, it took me awhile actually to believe that there is an economic crisis. "This is the worst economy since 1932," they say. But all my life I’ve heard public figures say that–especially right before elections. One thinks of the little boy who cried wolf. But this time it looks like there might actually be a wolf.

I get confused listening to commentators. I hear them say, "We got into this mess because everybody spent and didn’t save." Then they go on to say, "The way to get out of this mess is for everybody to spend more." I have to be honest, that kind of seemingly contradictory, hair-of-the-dog argument goes over my head.

So I can’t really offer any economic prescriptions. Fortunately, that’s not my job. What I can offer is a spiritual thought or two about coping with economically rough times.

Remember that things probably aren’t as bad as we think they are.

"Things aren’t always as bad as they seem, so dream, dream, dream". –Popular song

Public figures and commentators (from the left and the right) often paint very grim pictures of our situation–it’s practically part of their job description. However, when I turn from my TV screen to the Bible, I learn that, when God is around, things are never as grim as they appear on the surface. A couple of scenes from the Bible come to mind–like when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden because of their sin. That really looked like a bad scene. Humanity had rebelled against God–a future of pain, hard work, alienation, death, and eternal damnation stood before them. Their prospects couldn’t have been worse. Yet–God was there. And that meant things weren’t as bad as they seemed. He promised a Saviour, when He spoke to the serpent: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between her seed and your seed. He will crush your head, and you will strike at his heel. (Genesis 3:15). So the human future was a lot rosier than it seemed. Later in the Scriptures, the prophet Elijah was deeply depressed because Israel seemed totally lost in worship of the false god Baal. He said to God, "The Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left." (I Kings 19:10). But then God corrected Elijah’s perspective, and told him: "I have seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and whose lips have not kiss him". (I Kings 19:18). Elijah thought he was the only faithful one left, but there were seven thousand others who also were faithful to God. Things weren’t as bad as they seemed!

Think of the cross–what a grim scene that was! Earthquake, darkness, the desolate cry of "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" God Himself dying...what could be more hopeless and horrible than that? Yet in that dreadful event, God was saving the world...and a few days later, the hidden wonder of the cross was exposed in the bright light of the resurrection. Even in the pain and death of the cross, things weren’t as bad as they seemed! We can keep these Biblical scenes in mind as we grapple with our daily dose of distressing news.

Fear not!

"This is it. Don’t get scared now." – Macauly Culkin in "Home Alone"

I don’t know anything about economics, but I know that fear and panic are never a good idea (even though I love the old line, "If you’re not panicking, it’s because you don’t really understand the situation"). Franklin Roosevelt’s words, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", are as relevant today as they were in 1933.

Fear is an emotion, however, and it’s very hard to control our emotions. Telling someone, "Don’t be afraid!" may seem like the old joke where someone is told not to think about a white bear. In the very act of not thinking about a white bear, you’re thinking about a white bear–and in the act of trying not to be afraid, you’re still focusing on fear. But Paul gives an interesting prescription for fear and worry in a famous verse: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6 ). He gives us an alternative to anxiety. Use the energy you would normally give to fear and worry...and use that energy to pray!

Rick Warren has a brilliant line in The Purpose-Driven Life: "If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate." Worry is turning something over and over again in your mind...and so is meditation. What we want to turn over and over in our minds is, not the negatives and the anxieties, but God, His goodness, His promises to us, His presence with us. That’s our alternative to worry!

There’s an old saying: "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." And that’s exactly what the Scriptures tell us. Replace fear with prayer, replace worry with meditation. The mental energy you use is pretty much the same...but the result will be very, very different!

In fact, according to Paul, the result will be that "the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7).

If there truly is a wolf at the door, I hope he withdraws soon. But I also hope this time of economic anxiety will be used by God to bind us closer to Himself–and to teach us where our truest riches are to be found: in Jesus Christ, who "though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich." (II Corinthians 8:9).

God loves you and so do I!

Website designed and maintained by St. Paul's Members:
Roberta Paul:  grannyli@yahoo.com & John Martin: plaza237@yahoo.com
contact either for info, additions, deletions, announcements, etc.

Home   Pastor's Message  Pictures   Bible Study   Announcements

Youth Group   Music   Offerings   Archives    Links of Interest to Lutherans