The stock market has been brutal. Today was another horrendous day of losses and people are scared… not only of the stock market, but what is happening in the world at large. So far today, I have received notices from two pet store chains, a hotel group, an airlines or two, a local restaurant and several other places that are trying to ease our fears about the coronavirus and its possible impact on our country.
Just now, I heard that six of our local school systems in neighboring cities are closing after tomorrow and will remain closed for approximately four weeks until spring break is over. In fact, school officials have issued a statement that the state may make an exception and reduce the required days in a school year to 160 from the normal level of 180 for this year.
The NCAA Championships have been cancelled and even our church has decided to stream the weekend services rather than risk having people attend church in person. While I certainly want to take precautions and protect ourselves as much as we reasonably can, I still have my faith that things are going to turn out alright.
In the US, the markets have been a huge challenge. As companies have trouble getting materials from overseas, US profits will be reduced and undoubtedly corporate earnings will be negatively impacted. Of course, Wall Street quickly responds to these kinds of news items and many institutional investors are running for cover. The trouble with this strategy is that you have to be right twice – timing when you should get out; and then guessing when to get back in. So… Janet and I are staying the course. And it takes faith… we are not getting out…
We may come to regret this decision but I don’t think so. The fundamentals are strong but this is an event driven drop in the markets and those tend to reverse themselves more easily that when the fundamentals are flawed. And who could have predicted the coronavirus pandemic.
In a way, our faith lives are similar to what is happening on a national level. There are seasons when we enter troubled times during our lives. The one thing that I can tell you is that once we have passed through the fire, we are changed – either for the better or for the worse. But we don’t come out of the other end of the tunnel the same way we went in.
Sometimes, people reject God and can’t find the strength to trust in Him during the challenging times. They can even become bitter and there are many folks who have even renounced their faith. I have thought for many years that my father may have been, unfortunately, among this group of former “believers.”
Then, there is the opposite position. People cling to God when they are in crisis and hardships strengthen their faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I have seen many folks, even strong believers, leave the faith for a period of time after a severe crisis in their lives – but they return. Health issues, divorce, financial reversals and many other events can trigger these kinds of reactions but our faith can be renewed or strengthened – sometimes even much to our own surprise. Janet and I have found that throughout the last 47 years, our faith has become stronger through the adversities that we have suffered.
It helps to realize that everything belongs to God in the first place. We are merely stewards and are charged with the responsibility of taking care of that which belongs to our heavenly Father the best we can. Since we are not perfect this side of heaven, we will make mistakes of all kinds – and God already knows that about us. Most of us could be a little kinder and gentler – loving others as Jesus has loved us. But when the turmoil hits, it is important to resist the temptation to draw ourselves in and depend on our own strength to get us through.
That’s why faith is so very important. The ancient Jews believed that we only received enough faith from God for one day – and each day started when the third star came out at night. So when we wake up in the morning, half of our faith day is already gone. We need only make it till sundown when tomorrow will start. God will renew our faith…
Since our faith is a gift from God, it seems the best way to increase our faith in times of trouble is to pray and ask God to increase our faith. God will not disappoint us when we turn to Him. I think we need to stay the course and not sell out. Let’s not reject God in this time of need. Let us cling to Him more closely that we ever have.
Tonight’s verse illustrates this very principle. Each of us will face a time when we have to decide how committed we are to the Lord. We are told in Joshua 24:14-15, “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
My encouragement this evening is that we will all face times when our faith is tested. God sets us up for victory but He wants us to put our faith in Him. My prayer is that during this time of health and financial crises, we will cling to God. After all, we each have the choice to sell out – but we are going to stay the course. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…