The Strength in Faith
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3
The stock market is down. Inflation is high. The economy is slowing. Talk of that old 70’s specter “stagflation” is in the news. Home sales are slowing. Interest rates are rising. We may be facing some hard times soon. What should we do when hard times come? Well, as Christians, the first thing we can do is to remember that we don’t rely on the economy or wealth for our security. Our security comes from the Lord, the Creator of all things. Really, that is a truth that we should always have in the front of our minds, even more so when times are good. Because it’s easy to start thinking that we are self-sufficient when everything is going up and up. When there is plenty of margin, it’s easy to rely less on God. Our very wealthy nation and culture has turned away from God, and partly that has been able to happen because of how much God has blessed us with material wealth. We haven’t needed to look to God for help, we believe we can just help ourselves. We haven’t needed to rely on God for the future, we have our 401ks, capital gains and of course, our government to rely on. But we never should have relied on any of those things. They don’t have the power to save. They can’t even guarantee to get you through even the next year. But the Lord, who has redeemed us, has promised eternal life to all who believe in Jesus His Son, and vowed to walk with them every day of this life.
Having more than what you need is wonderful. But we should see it as what it is—a blessing from God. And monetary luxury is not the pinnacle of His plan for us. God’s plan is not to make us rich in things, but rich in faith, love and godliness, so that whether we have much or little, we will be happy because we know Him. Whether we have much or little, we will be seeking to follow Him, love Him and be like Him in loving our neighbors.
If the market truly crashes and the economy returns to the stagflation of the 70s, many people will be very, very afraid. Will you? Some will ask, “How can a loving God let this happen?” And while one answer might be, “God didn’t do this, we did,” another question will be, “Do we only love God because He gives us financial prosperity?” Because I’ll tell you what, most of His servants in scripture were not that well off (Abraham and David being two notable exceptions). And when God the Son came into the world? How did He live? “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” They didn’t trust God because He gave them fat loot all the time. They trusted Him and loved Him for who He is! Their joy came from knowing Him and living with and in Him every day.
Some people will abandon God if He allows hard times to come to us. Will we? Some will say, “How can God allow people to go hungry?” But is it God allowing that, or us? “God could provide for them,” Someone might say. Yes, He could, and maybe that provision is you. For you see, hard times always come. They come to every person. It’s just that, if the economy goes south, we will all share in hard times together at the same time, much like we did in the pandemic. But everyone goes through difficult things with quite a bit of frequency. Every day when you go about your life, you meet people who are going through terrible trials, you just can’t see it behind their brave face. God allows these things into our lives for a reason. It’s a vitally important reason, which makes sense because we know God loves us and does not wish to harm us. The Apostle Peter says it this way, “…now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith— more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:6-7.
So, even if the market recovers and, by God’s grace, we manage to avoid tough financial times, there will still be trials in our lives. Peter tells us that God allows them to come because there is something ever so much more important than financial security or comfort. For those things pass away and will not come with us to the eternal kingdom that awaits all believers. No, our faith is much more precious, much more important and is the focus of God’s plan for us and all people—that we come to faith and that faith be made as strong as possible before the day we are called home. So, let us take every opportunity that God gives us, every difficult thing that comes, as another chance to practice and strengthen our faith and trust in Him, that we might become rich in what never crashes or dries up or disappears. And let us help one another in all our trials, bear each other’s burdens, that we might have eternal treasure in heaven, where it cannot be stolen by anyone.
Trouble will come, whether it be a rough economy ahead, or some other trial for you and me. Let’s face it in the strength that only faith in Jesus Christ can give…and through Him we will be victorious!
In Him, Pastor Jeff