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Monday, August 8, 2011

A Christian Response to the Plunging Stock Market

By now everyone who follows the economy knows the Dow dropped over 600 points today after the United States lost its AAA financial rating the other day. It’s alarming news for our country, but it shouldn’t be surprising. Why? First, anyone who has a household to run who has followed the last couple of years debt unmanagement knows that you can only mismanage an economy for so long before the leaks start spring all over. I won’t get into finger pointing. I’ll leave that to the political commentators. But am I concerned? Yes, for the thousands who have been duped by our society’s misguided values of more, more, and more and for those who have lost and will lose their jobs. What should be the Christian response?

Concern for others and care for those in the need should be one response. The gospels are full of examples of Jesus reaching out to the poor and needy. He tells us in Matthew 10:42, “ And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” A cup of water is sometimes a compassionate word or a simple action of giving what you have. The Proverbs 31 woman is held in esteem for “she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

But would Jesus stop there? I don’t thinks so. I believe He would go on and reiterate statements from both the Old and New testaments…words from David such as “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:11). These are uncertain times, and we certainly need to put our hope in God and not in nations. To do so, we need to keep our thoughts from plunging into the abyss like the Dow. How can we do that? By thinking on things that encourage us such as “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord, he is their stronghold in times of trouble (Psalm 37:39). Nations and governments do not save us. Only God can, but how is God a stronghold?

When we hold onto the Word of God, it will strengthen us and allay our fears. As we come to trust Him, the things of the world lose their pull and we become concerned over more important issues that concern God, like loving our neighbor, serving others (rather than just ourselves) and obeying Him. We need to train our minds to think on good things that show us God’s character and what will help us overcome the kingdom of self.
One of my favorite verses is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not onto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him” (Proverbs 3:6). Trusting God when things aren’t going my way is always a challenge, but this verse shows me how. I don’t need to rely on human wisdom, but on godly wisdom from above. Indeed, these are times that test our ability to trust God and not rely on what we see—the slow demise of a once great nation.

Am I being fatalistic with this remark? I think not. It would be foolish for me to bury my head and say, “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be all right.” Things in the world will not be all right. They’re getting worse, but if we put our hope in God we can “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

This is indeed a time for us to pray. Pray for our nation, for our economy, for people to know that there is a God who knows and cares... but does not trespass our will. We have free will and can either choose to follow God’s ways or not. Obviously, many Americans have chosen not to or are ignorant of godly principles. People need to understand that we were indeed founded on Christian principles. Because some are trying to erase these from the face of America, the moral fabric of our society is unraveling. This weakens the fabric and gives rise to all manner of evil: pride, greed, lust, self indulgence, lack of self-control and a host of other evils which are slowly overtaking our land.

I know that complex issues contributed to the plunge in the Dow, but I believe the root causes are those mentioned above: pride, greed, independence from God and His ways. The solution? It’s outlined in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Recognize we need God, humble ourselves and pray. Seek his face. Turn from our wicked ways. Then God will hear from heaven and heal our land. Our land is suffering now. May we use this time to pray. That’s my advice to you, America. Maybe we can forestall complete collapse.