In our last church we had a program that taught us an evangelism method based on a memorized presentation. Katie and I were working on it at about the same time, and we'd try reciting it (I never did get too good at it...) and it started with, "We live in very uncertain times..." which somehow always made us laugh. I think it's because sometimes we imitated the way another member of the team said it with one eyebrow up and a look that was intended to be very convincing on his face. But it was true then, and it's all the more true now, with the economic instability here that is sending shockwaves clear to China at every move our Congress makes (or doesn't make) regarding it. We do live in very uncertain times.
That just makes me ponder, since when did anyone expect anything in the way of certainty? I've never been certain what was going to fill my day when I got up; each day is pretty much guaranteed to surprise me in some way or another. I don't know what my future on earth will bring--whether I will die in a moment or I might inexplicably live to be 120 and be one of those saying with a shrill, cackly voice, "If I'd known I'd last this long, I would have taken better care of myself!"
There have been wars going on in the world since I was a kid, and before that. If I'd pondered the state of society according to statistics, it might have given me pause in terms of ever bringing a child into this world. Our own finances, too, have always been in roller-coaster mode...sometimes great, sometimes on the ragged edge...and by God's grace alone, we have made it this far. I was telling a friend about it not long ago, what Gary's average earnings had been since we got married 25 years ago, and our friend was clearly stunned..."and you have this house...and two cars...and a daughter in college?!..." I shrugged and could only say that I couldn't explain it, it was all thanks to things God had done, things we didn't have our hand on. Gary's had at least three job gaps since we moved into our house 6 years ago; one was 15 months long...and we are still swimming along, maybe not exactly sailing, but our heads are above water at this point, only by God's grace.
I would estimate that Katie's faith, after the various things that God has brought us through, is probably one of the strongest in the family. She was young and impressionable when she watched God do some of His most amazing deeds on our family's behalf. She knows His power firsthand and the amazing ways that He cares for His own. On the other hand, Tim is ten years younger, and either wasn't around or was too young to remember, even though his very birth succeeded only clearly by God's gracious hand. Tim's faith is still more tentative; he doesn't personally know exactly how fully he can rest in God's lovingkindness yet.
So I've looked askance at the financial problems our country is having. Our family is, by our financial numbers, in no place to have the calamity that might befall us. I've pondered the idea that we could conceivably end up even out of our house and reliant upon the help of friends (who would doubtless be going through their own turmoils)...an idea which of course is far from comforting. Still, we do have friends, but above all, we have God. My stomach has never churned at this thought, and I know that if we went through it, it would be by God's will and for His glory. I thank Him and praise Him that He has brought us through all the things that He has over the last 25 years. He has taught me a great deal about Himself, about His love for us, about His provision, and I know that I don't need to fear. In fact, it's a sin to fear. It's a sin to be anxious, and you can understand why, if you think about it. It tells God that we don't really find Him trustworthy at all, that we rely so fully on our financial system that we can't imagine life without it as it has been throughout our memory. It's saying that He is too small, that He doesn't love us, that He doesn't have a handle on what to do and how to do it.
The population who endured the Great Depression of the 1930s is diminishing, and the average person today doesn't really know what the Depression looked like. They don't remember how people got through it. The faith that may have been more prevalent in those days isn't so widespread now, and I think perhaps for the sake of lost souls, who rely on their finances and take luxuries for granted, another depression might be the best thing that ever happened. It's when we get to the end of our own resources and power that we realize the need for Someone greater. That Someone is God. We already have access to Him. We don't have to wait until our lives hit the skids, but so many of us will. We can acknowledge Him today, "For he says, 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.' I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2).
And I can only end with one of my favorite verses, a verse that validates the various struggles that God has brought us through:
Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.