Can You Trust God in a Collapsing Economy?
As I write this article the news media is flooded with stories about the possibility—or reality—of a recession. The rising price of energy has combined with the sub-prime loan crisis to create a domino effect that is reverberating through all the branches of the economy. Like pulling a thread from a sock, when one part of the economy unravels, all other parts suffer, too. Like it or not, we are all affected.
You either are going through your own economic slump or you know someone who is. So, how do you trust God should the economy collapse? Let me outline some basic steps before I get to the nub of the matter.
First, let us learn a lesson about the debilitating effects of debt. It is indeed a wonder that we have raised a generation of people who cannot live within their means—and who think they don’t have to! Early on in our marriage Rebecca and I learned that debts can be a huge burden; you never find it as easy to pay down your credit cards as you think it is going to be. If you find yourself mired in debt I recommend that you consult a financial advisor who will help you think strategically about eliminating as much debt as possible. Even if you don’t have extra money to pay down that debt, there might be moves you can make to lessen its deadening effects.
Second, don’t stop giving just because you are in an economic crisis. The Bible has much to say about God blessing those who are generous. The so-called “health and wealth” teaching is wrong, but this much is true: generous people are blessed by God either monetarily or in spiritual blessings. God is constantly monitoring our hearts and when He finds a generous person He rewards that person with extra benefits of one kind or another. If you are stretched financially you might not be able to give much, but you should give something. And if you can’t give financially, give of yourself to meet the needs of others. We are not exempt from being generous because times are hard. In some countries when times are desperate people share the little they have with one another—to the point of personal pain and even ruin.
Third—and this gets to the bottom line: We must learn to trust God in the midst of our crisis. Jesus was very clear that God is not unmindful of our needs. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear... Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25a, 26).
My question to you: how do we take the words of Jesus and change them from wonderful but seemingly unattainable promises, into reality? How do we stop worrying and trust God in a time of economic uncertainty?
God has taught me some lessons about trust that I want to pass along to you. These lessons are practical and attainable. So, pull up a chair and turn to the Question and Answer section of this newsletter and we’ll talk!
I pray you’ll be glad you did.
It’s easy for Jesus to tell us to look at the lilies of the field and the birds of the air—Jesus never had the mortgage company breathing down His neck. In our complicated, fast-paced lives, can we really find peace just by trusting God? Pastor Lutzer gives us his simple tips.
Q: In your column you said it was actually possible to give our concerns—whether financial or otherwise—to God. How is this done?
A: Here’s what happens. Many Christians pray about their situation, constantly asking God to take care of this and that, but they never have peace because they are not committing the matter over to God. They’re still bearing it upon their own shoulders. When we do this—and I’ve been there more times than I care to admit—we are really praying in unbelief. That’s why our prayers are so frantic, and so repetitive. We pray and if there is no immediate response, then we fret and think prayer doesn’t work.
Q: OK, I admit that you’ve correctly diagnosed the situation, but how do we get to that state of peace, that kind of faith that will free us from anxiety?
A: What we need to do is genuinely commit the matter to God. “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act” (Psalm 37:5 ESV). This commitment means that we transfer our anxieties from our shoulders to God’s. This is such an act of faith that we really do no longer bear the burden.
The best example I can think of is Potiphar, who committed all the matters of his house to Joseph. “So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate” (Genesis 39:6, italics mine). All that he cared about was getting something to eat because his confidence in Joseph was so total, so complete, that he had no worries.
When we trust God like this, we are finally free.
Q: That might be possible for matters that we can’t control; but how do we commit those other things to God such as the predicament we are in because of our foolishness— purchasing a house we can’t afford, for instance?
A: The Good News is this: God is just as ready to care for the matters that are our fault as He is for those circumstances that are forced upon us either by others or because of situations beyond our control. God wants us to trust Him with it all. The path He chooses for us might not be easy, but He walks with us all the way and lightens our load; more accurately He actually carries it for us.
Q: OK, if you make such a commitment, does that mean that you no longer even pray about these things, because they are now in God’s hands?
A: No, we will still pray about them, but in a very different way; we will pray with a sense of genuine joy and praise. And if God doesn’t act as fast as we think He should, we do not fret because remember we need no longer concern ourselves with God’s affairs!!
So, my word to you is take out time right now and commit your situation to God—the loss of your job, your uncertain future, and even your husband, wife, or children. If you have worried all your life, this will initially be a huge struggle. But just do it, “Casting all your care upon him for he cares for you.”
This is the sure path to peace!
The Future of Iraq
Imagine, if you will, a highway that connects Baghdad with Cairo and Jerusalem; a highway without tolls and borders! Imagine Israel leading the world in religious observance, without rivalry from any nation on earth. People could spend their money on personal and social projects, without a dime going toward defense!
A dream, you say? No, not a dream, but a future reality predicted by Isaiah the prophet. As you read his predictions, keep in mind that much of present-day Iraq is the ancient land of Assyria: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be a third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth” (Isaiah 19:23, 24). This, of course, is a reference to the Millennial Kingdom, a time when Messiah rules on earth, restoring order, and for the most part, reversing the curse that sin has inflicted upon this planet.A Nervous Peace in the Middle East
We can be grateful that the 33-day war between Lebanon and Israel is over and that a peace-keeping force will be installed to prevent a repeat of the hostilities we witnessed just months ago. But unfortunately, we can be quite sure that conflicts will erupt in the Middle East again, somewhere and at some time. I might be a pessimist, but I don’t believe that a permanent peace is possible in Israel.Pornography: A Soul Defiled
Our nation is drowning in a sea of sensuality.
About 70% of the time, pornography falls into the hands of children, so when a friend of mine was a teenager and found a stash of his father’s magazines, he began to browse at the pictures. Though he became a Christian in college, the images stayed with him, and so did his habit. He kept his fantasy world intact, making sure that no one found out about his secret pleasure. He both loved pornography and hated it.
The standard God sets for us to gain eternal life is very high—so high there’s no way we can ever reach it. That’s why He’s given a gift to every child of God in which He bestows the very purity He demands. Let’s learn all about this marvelous gift.All Sermons by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer