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How to Thrive in a Distressed Economy, Part 1

That we are going through one of the worst economic times in history is no more news. If you haven’t been affected directly by a lay-off, you probably know some dear one who has. The sharp decline in stock prices have resulted in loss of millions of dollars in savings and retirement benefits. For months now, fear and panic have seized the hearts of many.

All around us, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of good news. But as painful and seemingly hopeless as the job loss or economic times have been, there is a basis for us to have hope, to expect a better tomorrow. But in the meantime, how do we cope in such troubled times? For some who have lost their means of livelihood and are rendered homeless after years of diligent work, what can such people do in such precarious times? There is no doubt that some people have faced very dire circumstances, but no matter your situation, here are a few suggestions that could help you out through these tough times.

Cry if you must, but eschew bitterness

It’s ok to cry in times of pain. But it is not helpful to be bitter. The loss of job or life-long savings could engender immense pain and bitterness if not checked. It’s all easy to get into a bitter mode and become offended. The temptation could be to be bitter and offended against God. As absurd as that may sound, it is true that we sometimes get really mad at God. In fact, it seems like the more faithful someone has been as a Christian, the more likely they are to get mad at God if something bad happens to them. Perhaps it is a feeling that God “let us down” when we needed him most. Or maybe, it’s a frustration about a loving God who “can just sit there and watch terrible things happen.” Whatever may be the cause, when bad things happen to believers we tend to get mad at God.

But bitterness - either against God or against the Church, fellow Christians, the government - does not engender the grace of God in tough times. In fact, it robs us of much needed grace. No wonder, we are enjoined: “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” ( Hebrews 12: 15, NLT). Bitterness has the potential to poison your destiny. Avoid it at all cost, no matter the temptation.

Get away with Christ for a while

You say, “Well, you can talk like that because you have no idea what I have gone through.” There is no doubt that your situation may be a very dire one, but then, that is why Jesus invites you personally to come away with him, so you may be refreshed. “Take off” with Christ for a season. Relax a bit in his presence. Refresh, renew, rethink, and reposition. Here is Jesus’ invitation to you: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly" (Matthew 11:28-30, Message).

Get away with Christ and recover your life. Take a moment to reflect and pray. Christ our Lord promised to give you real rest. Yes, that is what you need most now: God-given rest, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. It may not have been your fault that things had gone out of hand, but at least you can recover your life again, in the very hands of Christ. You may not be able to stop the bad news all around, but at least, you can guard your heart and mind with the very peace of Christ. This is the very beginning of recovery.

Yes, I know that when you are feeling beaten and weary, the last thing you want to do is get into all night prayer. Yes, I understand that; because I have personally been there a few times. But notice Jesus did not say, “ Get into prayer and fasting for seven days.” He said, “Get away with me, and I will show you how to rest, and recover your life.” To get away means to be “still and know that He is God.” It means to meditate on God’s love, goodness and faithfulness. It means to stay engaged in God’s presence and in his word until new hope arises in your heart and a new courage is inspired within your soul. Whether or not you are able to pray aloud, he hears you and knows your need. As I end part one of this piece, let me encourage you to “come away with Christ.” Let his presence renew, refresh and reposition you.