Monday, September 22, 2008

Economy, Fear, Anger and Jesus

I don't really understand the world of finance. So I don't have a clear or solid grasp of what exactly is going on with this whole economic meltdown we're currently experiencing (and that drives me crazy). Over the last few weeks (months, really), I've been reading lots of news articles and blog posts, trying to make sense of it all.

The more I learn, the more I find two emotions rising up in me. The first is fear: What if we ARE headed into another Great Depression, the likes of which none of us has ever seen? What if this IS the decline of the United States as we know it? Should we be stockpiling? What? How much? Is all the money we've saved, both short term and for retirement, going to vaporize? What if...?

The other is anger: How dare those greedy Wall Street brokers act so foolishly and irresponsibly! Why should wealthy executives get to line their pockets when the market is good, but not have to pay the price when everything goes south? It's so unfair that the profits are privatized and the risk is socialized! This is outrageous!

As Steve and I discussed the situation recently, he wisely said: "I can understand why people who think this life is all there is would be devastated by what's going on." If your treasure is 100% on earth...if you are living for pleasure and comfort here and now...if the prize you're eyeing is a secure, relaxing retirement...how could you feel anything BUT fear and anger to see your dreams possibly going up in smoke?

But Jesus responds to my fear:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 5:19-21).

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ...And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 5:25, 27, 31-34).

And Jesus responds to my anger: There, but for the grace of God, go I. Do I not struggle with the same greed, the same selfish ambition? Would I not sin just as flagrantly if His hand did not hold me back? Am I really any more righteous than "those ungodly people" on Wall Street? Where would I be today if not for His mercy?

It's good and right to pray for the economy and the wellbeing of our country, but ultimately I must remember that my hope is not in the stock market or in a stable economy. Devastation may be natural and understandable for others--but I must replace the fear and anger with trust in a sovereign God who promises to provide for His children, and humility in acknowledging my own weakness and sin. As I observe current events, I must wait anxiously--not nervous for the unknowns of what's ahead next year or the year after here on earth, but excited for the joyful, certain return of the Lord, who will set all things right and make all things new.

3 comments:

Jules said...

This is so, so good.

It's times like these that I think "good thing I don't have much money to worry about!" :)

zz said...

Well said.

The Bontragers said...

Wonderful post