Monday, March 9, 2009

A Different Perspective on the Recession

How do we understand what we are going through? In these times when all of the worldly securities are seemingly so insecure (like jobs, houses, retirement funds, etc.), how are we as believers to understand what God may be doing in the bigger picture? For there is war, genocide, poverty, terrorism, financial chaos, the destruction of families, along with many other areas of crisis that have caused many to panic, fear, and fall into despair.

But for Christians who trust in the sovereignty of God, and who have placed their lives and trust in God alone for their salvation, identity, purpose, and security, this recession serves as a means for our faith to be strengthened and a longing for our true home to be on the forefront of our minds. It also provides us with an opportunity for our values to be tested, our eyes to be opened, and growth in areas we may never have thought about before.

In a recent sermon entitled, “What is the Recession For?,” Dr. John Piper, Pastor/Teacher at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sets forth five purposes that God may have for us during this time of recession. I think they are rather insightful and present a well thought out biblical worldview on the issues of suffering, trials, and money. Piper says that some of God’s purposes might be that:

1) He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
2) He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
3) He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
4) He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
5) He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.

Surely these are not exhaustive or comprehensive in nature, which Piper admits, but they are very “right on the money” if you will pardon the pun. There are two sides to every trial – there is the natural, worldly side where which is how we are often tempted to view it most, and then there is the other spiritual side where seeing things from God’s bird’s eye view gives us a whole new perspective. If we view this as a time when God is further sanctifying us while giving us a hunger for heaven, then our souls will find rest even when the world crumbles down around us. Remember, God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” - James 1:12, (NIV)

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