I feel that it is time that I chimed in on the current financial crisis that is gripping the world. I think that I am not alone in my concern about the future and while I have not been directly affected at this point sometimes not knowing is as bad as something actually happening. Hopefully my personal experience in dealing with this will help others that may be struggling during this time.
The Last Financial Crisis
Before tackling the current financial crisis let’s look at the one that just happened seven short years ago. Back in 2001 it was the golden age of the internet. Billion dollar valuations of companies grew on trees and we were all going to be millionaires by 25 and retire billionaires by 30. It was a time of extravagance and money flowed freely.
During this time I was a couple of year into my Christianity and was newly married. I had gotten it into my head that God wanted to bless me and thought that these blessing were flowing through credit. I had gone wild and bought anything and everything that they would let me buy on credit including a house. Three weeks after buying the house I was laid off from my job due to the economy. I hadn’t even made the first payment on the house.
For the next 2 years my wife and I struggled along as she worked full time and I tried to start/run a business in the technology field. After 2 years we were stripped of just about everything (including the house) and found ourselves renting from her dad once again. I struggled another couple of years with the business until we started having kids. A couple of events happened and I found myself hitting rock bottom.
The Turning Point
The turning point for me was when I got into a business financial dispute with a really good friend that cost me our friendship. I remember sitting in my car with my wife looking at her knowing that if I didn’t change things that I could very well lose her next. It was at that point that I decided to quit the business and go get a job and try to take care of my family the way that a real man of God should.
Since that time my wife and I have been extremely blessed. I believe that choosing to make my family’s needs a priority as opposed to mine allowed God to come into our situation and allowed His blessing and provision to flow. We are more blessed today then we every have been in order lives.
(You can read my perspective on Christian priorities in my post – Priorities as a Christian)
The 2008 and Beyond Financial Crisis
Today’s financial crisis isn’t much different then the one that happened seven years ago. There was money flowing and people were looking to get rich quick and retire young. This time around though it was real estate that was the catalyst for what we are facing. The only difference this time around is that the housing sector is far larger then the technology sector and therefore is and will impact far more people. I do not remember any government bailouts for technology companies seven years ago but we have already had one for the Financial sector and now the auto industry is asking for one as well.
Last time there were several factors that I personally contributed to that allowed the financial downturn to affect me. I had far more debt then I should of. I also had switched jobs not long before getting laid off to a newly created position that was easily expendable (so I found out later). The position I transferred from was one of the few positions that actually remained when all was said and done and hindsight shows me that God was trying to protect me from what was coming. In the last financial crisis I contributed a lot to my anguish and I know and understand that now.
This time around I feel that I am in the right place with God and in the job that He wants me to be in. We have a little debt (still more then I would want) that is easily manageable. I have been tempted at times to fly the coop at my job but have stuck it out and am glad that I did. This time around I should be in a much better place to ride this storm out.
So why do I still get scared as if I am going to lose it all?
Who’s in Control?
I get scared at times because I listen to the news a little too much. I hear the unemployment reports and hear of people getting laid off. At first I was really into the watching and reading the news as it was happening and was finding myself getting more and more depressed. I was easily losing my temper around my wife and kids and had little motivation to do anything. I was down trodden because I felt like I was not in control and my destiny was uncertain. I felt like at any moment I could get that call into my boss’s office to be told that today would be my last day. It was terrible.
Things got to the point that my wife noticed and we started talking about it. She looked at me in unbelief as I quoted her statistics of layoffs and other end of the world jargon that the news channels and internet had been spewing for weeks. Her look of unbelief was not at the actual information that I was saying but at the fact that it was coming out of me. She was pretty quick to remind me that whatever you feed grows and whatever you starve dies. She told me that it was pretty evident that I had been listen to the news more then God.
Her wake up call was the equivalent of getting a smack on the face.
For the previous weeks we had not been to church hardly at all and I had been consumed with all of the bad news floating around. The next day I downloaded several podcasts from various ministers that I know have good Word. I spent the next week listening to them during the day at work and by the end of the week things were looking much better from my perspective.
See, the world is going to tell you that this thing is going to hit you and take you down with it. If you listen to it you are giving the world control of your life and there is a very good possibility that it will do exactly that. But if you stop listening to what the world has to say and listen to God, you will find out that He has a plan ready and waiting for you and is eager to share it with you. His plan is that this financial crisis will have a minimum impact on you. In fact it is His will for you to prosper during this time so you can help other through it. What we have to do though is to make a conscious decision of who we are going to listen to – the world or God.
Fighting the Good Fight
After having the conversation with my wife I made the decision to make God’s Word the authority in my life. At first I was consumed with the Word and I was taken out of depression and was actually a pretty happy camper. Bad news would come but would go as quickly as it came. In my mind even if I got called into the office to be laid off I knew that it would be apart of God’s plan and therefore had nothing to fear. Things were going great.
After that first week I tapered off in listening without realizing it. By the end of the second week I was starting to slip back into listening to the news and into being depressed. Over the weekend I realized what was happening and hit the Word again that following Monday. Since then I have been pretty consistent with listening to the Word and have been doing pretty good.
Another thing that I noticed is that even when I am in the Word if I get really tired then I become more vulnerable. When overly tired I struggle a little more in fighting back the news of world. I now realize that as I continue to take in the Word that I need to make a conscious effort to catch up on my rest as well. The devil always looks for the weak or tired to go after so we need to makes sure we stay up on both.
Bad things are going to come an go. The Bible says that it rains on the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45). I believe that God always has a plan to cushion the blow though. You may have been living it up and now this financial crisis has or is about to catch up with you. You may have done everything right and did not get caught up in what was happening but still are now effected. Either way God has a plan to bring you out. Sometimes it is hard to understand or except that but He is our father, our dad.
Jeremiah 29:11 says:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
The thing that always helps me in situations like this is to think of how I would be if my son was in the same situation.
If my son came to me and said “Dad, I played the real estate game and messed up, can you help me and my family out?” how would I react? Would I say “Well, that’s too bad, I hope you figure something out.”. No, I would help him. He might get a lecture from me but I am not going to leave my son and his family out in the cold because he made a mistake. I would do everything in my power to take care of him and help him get on his feet.
There is nothing that I would not do for my son.
I believe that God is the same way. There is nothing that He would not do for us. We just need to come to him. When we come to Him He will reassures us that He is in control and that he is going to take care of us (Deu 31:6). Anytime I get scared or concerned about something that has come my way there He is to let me us that everything it going to be alright. He is such a good dad.
Jobs come and go, houses, cars, etc the same. But God is always there, constant, never changing. He loves us and is more then willing to take us in and take care of us and our families. We just need to give Him the chance.