Many people today find themselves wondering, “Why should I stay positive when we are in the midst of a serious financial crisis, and people are losing their homes and jobs? Why stay invested in the stock market when it seems like the losses keep mounting day after day?”
These questions are not easy to answer.
The dilemma our community, our country and our world is facing today is the result of many incredibly complex factors. However, if we refocus our eyes on the things we’re devoted to, there is hope for us yet.
Where is my devotion?
Is your devotion focused on your worldly possessions or is your devotion to God, our Heavenly Father? Are you secure in His love for you and your eternal salvation?
If your devotion is to God, then you probably don’t feel as anxious as people who focus their devotion on their stock portfolio, because the trials and tribulations of this world are causing them much more stress, anxiety and uncertainty.
Remember Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6–7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The reality is that even if your devotion is to God, today’s economy may still make you feel anxious about some very real concerns – like paying for your child’s education, saving for retirement, paying monthly bills and continuing to be generous in your charitable giving.
How do you sort through and interpret all the media reports when headlines claim that these are “unprecedented times,” the likes of which we have never experienced before?
Here’s a bit of historical perspective, to help you monitor your anxiety and keep your devotion focused in the right place.
The difference from the Depression
First, unlike some previous economic cycles, the U.S. government and others are actively – and aggressively – responding to the current crisis. We are seeing record stimulus, as well as huge injections of money into the system for banks to lend to consumers and businesses.
By contrast, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, there was very little action taken to correct the problems causing the crisis. As a result, nearly 10,000 banks failed, compared to “just” several hundred bank failures in the current crisis. Unemployment peaked at 25 percent in 1933; the current unemployment forecast is expected at around 10 percent.
And during Japan’s financial crisis of the 1990s, which seriously impacted the country and also affected the worldwide economy, taxes were raised, and there was no fiscal stimulus package. There was little corporate cost cutting so companies continued to lose money, lay off employees and go out of business. In addition, there was little action taken to control and purge debt from the system. Japan also experienced a more than 50 percent price decline in residential real estate.
In contrast, we have seen a roughly 20 percent decline nationwide, with pockets of higher declines like those in South Florida.
Clearly, the current crisis is being actively addressed in ways that similar crises were not. Some of the best financial minds suggest that the stock market may be in the process of “forming a bottom,” and they propose that it might begin to rebound later in the year. They also suggest that this trial will, in hindsight, be called a “nasty recession,” not a depression. And they hope that we will experience tangible examples of recovery in the second half of 2009 or the first half of 2010.
While there is much already being done to correct our country’s economic woes, there is no surefire solution. That’s why it is so important for Christians to remind themselves of the things that are truly deserving of their devotion. Not our worldly possessions, but rather God – the owner of it all and the only one worthy of our complete trust and devotion.
Rob West is president and principal of Trust House, Inc., a fee-only financial and investment management firm. He is also a seminar instructor for Larry Burkett’s Crown Financial Ministries and co-hosts “All Things Financial” and “Vocal Point,” weekly interactive radio programs aired on 90.3FM WAFG. He is also the director of training for Kingdom Advisors. For information or to book a speaking engagement, call 954-351-2088. Please send questions and comments to Rob@THAdvisors.com.
The information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. You should not rely on any information in this article to make (or refrain from making) any decision or take (or refrain from taking) any action.