Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Recession Blues

We need only read the paper, watch TV, or see internet news updates, and we will be bombarded with doom and gloom predications that “Recession is coming!” or, “Recession is here!” and of course, “World heading for global depression!”

The fact is that some countries are already suffering the effects of recession, with rising inflation, higher unemployment, and an increase in the number of the homeless. My wife has shared with me the troubles that many families are experiencing in Japan now. Since company provided housing is often part of the job package, when a father is retrenched, they lose not only their income but their home as well.

Many fear that the world is in danger of slipping into another depression akin to the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Many factors that brought about the Great Depression are at work in today’s global economy, such as distress selling, banks in serious financial straights, falling asset prices, lower profits, falling interest rates, soaring unemployment, and so on.

What attitude should we take towards the threat of national/global recession and depression? Should we live in fear of their arrival, dreading how recession or depression will affect us personally? Should we allow fears of what may come tomorrow destroy our ability to live today?

Jesus told us not to worry.

“…do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31 – 34.

So we should live today with the strength that God gives us today. Worrying about tomorrow not only destroys our ability to enjoy and cope with today, but it doubts God’s ability to look after our future.

And when 'tomorrow' comes, should it arrive hand in hand with calamity, what should our attitude be? What if national or global recession/depression deprives us of jobs, shares, investments, even our homes and possessions?

The answer is that we must seek first the kingdom of God and then trust Him to meet all of our needs.

One of God’s names is Jehovah Jireh, which means, the ‘Lord will provide.’ So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." Genesis 22:14.

I am convinced that as we put God first and present our requests to Him, we will be astounded by the miracles of His wondrous provision.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

God knows what we need - we have nothing to fear.

Matthew 6:25 – 34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

There is a running joke in my family. If we receive a tax bonus or a cash windfall for a certain amount, we often get a bill the next day for that same amount.

It is my personal opinion that one of the primary ways God will provide for the needs of His children during recession/depression is through the body of Christ. These trials are an opportunity for Christians to watch out for each other’s needs, so that those with plenty can help those in need, just as in the early church. Let us each be mindful of the needs of our Christian family, especially those of our local church.

Acts 4:32-35 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

Please note that there is a difference between God supplying all of our needs and God maintaining our wealth or current/previous life style. Our riches are those things we have stored in heaven – our relationship with God, our salvation, each soul we have lead to Christ, every good work we have done for God.

What attitudes should we have if such trials as recession/depression destroy our previous lifestyle? Let examine the life of the Apostle Paul, who set us a great example through the many trials he endured.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

How did Paul respond to these trials? Did he worry, grumble, or blame God?

No, he relied upon Christ’s strength instead of upon his own. 2 Corinthians 12:9 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

He learned to be content whatever his circumstances.

Philippians 4:12-13 ‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.’

In fact, he went further than being content. In the Book of Acts, we even find him singing and praising God while in prison!

Acts 16:24-25 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

How was Paul able to respond like this? It was because his hope was securely and firmly in Christ, not in this world or its riches, material possessions, stock markets, job, or house.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul also fixed his hope upon the riches he would receive in Christ when he died and went to heaven.

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Further more, Paul considered the unimaginable, eternal riches that await us in heaven, and compared to these, the temporary trials we endure on the earth faded into insignificance.

Romans 8:17-18 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

I think of my ill health in the same way. Hearing impaired, bad tinnitus, epilepsy, slipped spinal discs, difficulty swallowing – when examined in their own light, these troubles could weigh me down. And yes, I know God can and does heal, and I have sought such healings. However, if He never heals me of these ailments, I am not troubled. Why?

Because my hope is in Christ - I know that my time in this world is temporary. I am only passing through on my way to heaven to be with Christ, my Lord and Saviour. And when I get to heaven, I will receive a brand-new, resurrection body – perfect in every way, just like Christ’s resurrected body. I will have this new body for eternity.

If you are reading this article and you have not accepted Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Saviour, let me encourage you to take that step now. Pop over to my blog’s right-hand side bar, scroll down and you will see a heading “Becoming Part of God’s family.” Follow the instructions given by these Bible verses and you will begin your new life as a born-again Christian.

Our life in this world is temporary, and without God, has no meaning, as the Bible shows us in Ecclesiastes 1:2.

"Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."

But for those with faith in Christ, our lives have meaning, significance and purpose.

Those who belong to God’s family have a wondrous hope – that one day we shall spend eternity in heaven, where we can see the face of God and Jesus everyday, a perfect place filled with love, joy and peace.

So if recession/depression deprives us of our job, shares, investments, home or possessions, let us remember to keep things in perspective. This is temporary, Christ is our hope, and glory awaits us. And our God shall supply all of our needs.

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(All verses from the NIV.)

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    1. Hello Peter,
      Some powerful scriptures there! I think we all need to be encouraged. In elementary school we used to sing a song: Why do you let the troubles of tomorrow bring sorrow to your heart and burden too? For if the Father's eye is on the sparrow, then surely He will care for you ... A useful tune to keep in one's heart always. Stay blessed.

    2. This is a very powerful post, esp. as your own personal testimony illustrates the point you are making.

    3. Again, a timely post for a lot of people are suffering. My own brother who has been working in Japan for many years had lost his job, too. Like what you said, God provides, but as a church, we have a responsibility to also help out our Christian bros. and sisters if able to. That's how GOd's blessings are supposed to work anyway, not to be kept but to be shared. God bless.

    4. Hi Peter,

      This is such a powerful post filled with God's Word, His Promises. I've learned, as you have with physical ailments and the many, many trials we have endured, that we have to live within today. I don' take anything in life for granted anymore. Tomorrow will take care of itself by the hand of Him.

      We need to take rest in His Word and what you said, "So we should live today with the strength that God gives us today. Worrying about tomorrow not only destroys our ability to enjoy and cope with today, but it doubts God’s ability to look after our future." How absolutely true this is.

      Your post reaffirmed more so what I've been feeling for a long time and you couldn't of worded it any better my friend.


    5. It is so hard in these economical times to trust God and not worry, but that is the key. We do our part and God comes through to help us do what we cannot. Your writing encourages us to get the right perspective.

    6. Thanks for your comments everyone, you are a great source of encouragement to me. Welcome to the blog, Denise.

      That's a great song Lilly, love the lyrics. Twenty plus years ago we used to sing a song called, "Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Jireh, my God shall supply all my needs." That one's still in my head too.

      Sorry to hear about your brother, RCUBEs. Japan is having a hard time, from what I've seen.

      Praise God for His promises, Alleluiabelle, where would we be without His instruction manual for our lives?

    7. Thank you Peter for sharing. I have a quote at my desk at work where I state that I refuse to take any part in any recession or any flu, whether swine, bird, cat, dog you name it . . . it ain't mine!

    8. Well said, Peter! When my kids were 1, 3, and 5 years old, my marriage broke up and I cared for them on my own. There were times, too numerous to recall, that God provided at exactly the right time, whether it was a box of groceries, or money turning up for a bill.

      What does it say about our commitment to our brothers and sisters in Christ, when most of the time, it was non-Christians who helped me?

      Although we can't make other Christians show compassion to members of our congregation who are in need, we should to be willing to help where we can, even if it's only buying them some milk and bread.

      Many blessings Peter.

    9. Hi Lynne,
      Thank you for sharing how God met your needs in that difficult time. That is so sad that Christians are often oblivious of what is going on around them.

      But you've also made a very good point, God's provision for us will not just come from the church, but from unbelievers as well.

      One of the most touching things I have learned from history was something that happened in Yugoslavia in WW2. Ethnic Muslims took Jewish people into their homes and successfully hid them from the fascists who were trying to round them up and send them off to death camps.

    10. Amen, Peter. I've been sensing, almost feeling the fear in the air around me. A couple of my friends have lost jobs and one of them also had her husband walk out. Double blows.
      We need to fight that fear and offer the hope and comfort that we have received. Thank you for doing that.

    11. I can't wait to get back over here to read more. Some of the topics on your side bar are sure ones i need help with.

      barbara jean

    12. Amen, Peter! Very timely in these days. It's always good to see things through the eyes of faith rather than the eyes of fear.

    13. Thanks for dropping by, Barbara, and thank you for the feedback. God bless you, :)

    14. "So we should live today with the strength that God gives us today."That really sums it up, brother. Incredible and timely post.

    15. I so enjoy your writings Peter.
      God has never failed me, and in the mist of troubles, when I ask myself "Why does God allow so much grief and pain?" I center to the love and knowledge he provides. God gave us one of the greatest gifts of all: Free Will. It is not He who brings sorrow, pain or lacking of. It is we, our choices with things such as Greed, Envy, and so many others. Perhaps that is why giving to others feels so rewarding! Control is another aspect. When I hand it over to God, I see things headed against my own wants, and I soon snatch it right back. Once I accept, I see later in life how much better things became. My Favorite is the all time “The Serenity Prayer” My personal battle is ..... when do we know for sure that it is something we can't truly control, and to let go, or when have we not tried our best? Peter? Can I ask your advice on this?
      Thank you for sharing so much of your life! So very comforting to so many.