During an interview on the financial news channel, CNBC, the billionaire Warren Buffett once said that during recessions, it’s like the U. S. economy falls off a cliff. National elections, like the one we’ll be having in a few weeks, are often referendums on the economy. It seems like the economy and the inflation rate are some of the main things we’ve been hearing about on the news.
It’s possible you don’t ever remember experiencing a recession. Some of us recall the recessions in the mid 70’s or early 80’s. Maybe the Great Recession of a dozen years ago affected your family negatively. You hope that never happens again. In the Great Recession, it’s possible that some of your parents or someone close to you lost their jobs, or they had their work hours cut back, or their earnings decreased. Maybe such things happened to you.
Why does God allow such things to happen? He’s a loving God, isn’t he? Jesus told us that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to” him (Matthew 28:18). In Ephesians chapter 1 the Spirit tells us through Paul that Jesus is head over absolutely everything for the benefit of his Church—that is, for his believers (Ephesians 1:22). In chapter 8 (28) of Romans the apostle also informs us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” He also tells us that nothing can separate us from “the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). He writes there, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31, 32).
So what gives? Is God reneging on his promises? Has he forgotten what he’s told us? Maybe he’s changed his mind?
A few summers ago my family and I vacationed in southern California. When we were taking the Hollywood and Beverly Hills bus tour, we were driving down Sunset Blvd. Next to us at a stop-sign was a young man in a beautifully restored 1966 Ford Mustang convertible with the top down. I didn’t know if he was a movie-star or not, but you could just tell by the look on his face that he thought he was really cool and on top of the world. I’m sure that if someone had cut in front of him and made him slam on his brakes that his demeanor would have changed considerably!
In the same way, when we’re cruising along in our personal and professional lives and everything seems to be going our way, we tend to take things for granted. We feel we’re on top of the world and that we’re pretty cool, ourselves. We can even get a little self-righteous. So God puts a big pothole in our road of life or he brings us to a screeching halt with a slowing economy or some other difficulty, in order to get our attention. “Be still,” he says, “and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
God wants to remind us that everything belongs to him. We have our blessings solely because of his grace in Christ Jesus. Everything we have is from him: our family and friends, our classmates and coworkers, our food, clothes and homes, our jobs, our professions, callings and businesses, our churches and our schools. Our Savior also wants us to realize that our thoughts are not his thoughts, and that our ways are not his ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8, 9).
So with what frame of mind should we approach our problems and difficulties as individuals, as families, as schools, as churches, or as businesses? I would hope we would have the attitude of Paul, who prayed three times that his thorn in the flesh would be removed. When Jesus responded to Paul by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (1 Cor. 12:9), the apostle wrote: “I will boast all the more about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me…”
May that also be our attitude when we’re faced with the problems of life—like slowing economies or recessions. “Be still,” our Savior says, “and know that I am God.” He died on the cross to rescue us from hell. He rose from the dead. His will is always done. His Word will always be proclaimed. Jesus is still the Lord of the Church and Ruler of the universe. He is still very much in control. “Be still, and know that I am God.”
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