John Piper: Economic Downturn Not Necessarily Bad for Souls

One of the most influential evangelical authors is encouraging Americans not to complain or get angry at God during these bleak economic times.

God may turn pain, job loss or vanishing retirement funds for our good, said John Piper, pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., in a video message posted this week.

His words come as Democratic lawmakers rolled out on Thursday an $825 billion package to tackle the economic challenges and jolt the U.S. economy. President-elect Barack Obama is hoping to save or create over 3 million jobs and provide tax relief, among other things, with the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan."

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As the recovery package is debated in the next couple of weeks, Piper has offered Americans some words of comfort and encouragement during the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

First, the well-known author and preacher reminded Americans and those around the world that "God tests His people through hardship."

"And sometimes the darkest of days turn out to be the best of days because almost none of us learns the most and the deepest things about God in the rosiest of times but only in the worst of times," he said in the video featured on his Desiring God Ministries website, "and the knowledge of God is the most precious thing in the world."

"Therefore," he continued, "it's not obvious to me that an economic downturn is bad for our souls, maybe bad for our pocketbooks and bad for our stomachs and bad for our egos, but not necessarily bad for our souls."

Citing several verses from the New Testament book of Matthew, Piper says the passage is designed specifically for people who are on the brink of losing everything.

"Don't be anxious about what you should eat or what you should drink or what you should put on ... He says don't worry about these. I'm your father," he noted. "He means for that word to land on a suffering, laid-off family with tremendous peace."

"I (God) will take care of you. I will," Piper stressed.

While that biblical passage may provide comfort to Christians, the Minneapolis preacher also exhorted non-believers to turn to Jesus Christ and trust him.

And even as Christians, Scripture does not say there will be no trials or periods of suffering for believers, Piper indicated. But Piper assured that through hard times, God will meet every need – "real need, not just perceived need."

"I can be poor, I can lose a job, I can have a hospital bill that I don't know how to pay, for I can do all these things through Him who strengthens me," he stated.

"Count it all joy when you meet various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness," he added.

Addressing his message to the Church in the latter part of the video, Piper called this moment in history a "golden moment" for the Church to experience the promises of God.

"Will our (Christians) faith rise or will we be as anxious as the world is and just look like the world in all of our scraping by, scraping to say 'I got to have' instead of 'He's my everything ... I will work and do everything I can to meet the needs of my family and myself but I am not going to lie awake at night and get angry at Him or bemoan my situation.'"

He ended his message on a challenging note: "Do all things without grumbling. Why? You have a sovereign God who is on your side, who works everything together for your good."

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