Most of us have been badly shaken by the tumultuous events in Wall Street. If you have an IRA or some kind of retirement plan, no doubt you're licking your wounds. You may even be fearful. I understand. I've experienced those apprehensions myself.
But as I told a worried young man on our team today, we need to remember that fear is always the enemy of faith. A few months ago, in the midst of fervent prayer during my devotions, I had an especially strong realization that my life was completely in God's hands. To live is Christ, to die is gain. I've known that intellectually, but for the first time in my life, it is now engraved in my soul. Now, when things go wrong, I turn to God, pray, trust Him, and feel an amazing peace. I'm His.
And you know what else? The financial markets are His. The world is His. I don't know why it took me 35 years to get this, but I finally have.
Here's something else to remember: God often uses adversity for His greatest blessings—in this case in several ways. Christians are called to do the best things in the worst of times. Take, for instance, the plagues that wracked the Roman Empire, which I wrote about in my new book The Faith. The doctors and wealthy pagans fled the cities, but the Christians stayed and tended to the sick and dying. That sacrificial love—visible for all to see—fueled the incredible growth of the Church.
Today we have an opportunity to see how the Acts 4 church really works—where Christians help one another through tough times and reach out lovingly to our neighbors.
What's more, there's a great opportunity for you to explain the importance of a biblical worldview to your friends. Because these financial troubles are the direct result of our nation turning its back on God. Simply put, the rise of relativism in postmodern Western life has led to the collapse of a moral consensus. With everyone making up his own rules when it comes to right and wrong, is it any wonder our economic system is under stress?
Michael Novak, the great theologian, has said that Western democratic capitalism is like a three-legged stool, resting on political freedom, economic freedom, and moral restraint. Take away moral restraint, and the stool collapses.
Look at how we reached this crisis: Sensing easy money, Wall Street bundled up mortgages without regard to risk, sold them off, and made a big profit. Risky, even dangerous mortgages were then being offered to people who had little chance of paying them off. And when the housing market slowed and house values went down, the mortgage market began to collapse like—dare I say it—a house of cards.
So this is a time for steady nerves and keeping things in perspective. Take a look out your window. The sky is not falling.
Above all, remember this: God is on His throne. Maybe the "eat, drink, and be merry" attitude of Americans needed a little adjustment—as does the spiritually casual attitude of the Church.
The current troubles are not going to lead to the collapse of the American economy, the strongest in the world. But I do think God is telling us to sober up and get serious about what we believe and how we live.