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Is the sky falling? I have never seen so much panic around a virus in my life! It seems the economic damage being done is worse than the flu? When will this nightmare end?
Holding Out Hope
Dear Holding Out Hope,
Bear with me; a lot is going on.
The events we have witnessed in March, 2020 have been unprecedented in my lifetime, and probably yours too. We are living through a period of history we will long remember. Let me recap what we are all experiencing:
- Panic as a result of the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly across the world causing the closure of schools, churches, sporting events and major conferences.
- Millions of workers were told to work from home, and “social distancing” has become the new normal.
- The stock market is once again very volatile with concerns of a prolonged recession. March 16, 2020 saw the largest single day drop since 1987.
- The Federal Reserve Bank dropped interest rates to zero…yes, ZERO. Negative rates may be next.
- President Trump declared a national emergency to launch coordinated efforts with the public and private sectors to control the spread of the virus. He also announced a National Day of Prayer for March 15th.
- Basic necessities like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bread and water disappeared from retail shelves as people began to hoard. This happened in many nations around the globe.
- Delta, one of the world’s largest airlines, announced that demand for tickets dropped by 40%. A drop greater than during the 9/11 crisis.
- Israel announced all incoming arrivals to the country would be required to be quarantined for 14 days causing many to cancel their tours and visits to the Holy Land in celebration of Easter.
Three Economic Scenarios
We have all experienced some loss in the past 30 days, whether it has been a direct loss of business, a loss of value in our retirement funds, or possibly even a loss of your job. Because of this, I want to comment on some likely scenarios for an economic recovery. I hope this will give you perspective and restore hope.
I have the opportunity to receive input from some very capable business leaders from around the world regarding the economy. I will summarize for you what I have learned over the past few days from interacting with the people I trust. It boils down to three scenarios.
A. Best Case: Within 45 days, good news regarding the containment of the virus (which could come in a variety of ways - Covid 19 vaccine trials are already underway) will lead to a swift but volatile recovery. Some call this a V shaped recovery. Down fast but back up in a similar manner.
B. Middle View: 6-9 months before the good news comes - sharp economic declines but robust recovery underway by the fall. China will lose factories and thus more jobs will come to the US. Strong economic growth due to liquidity from Quantitative Easing, low interest rates, etc.
C. Worst Case: 12 months of recession with a potential for a prolonged economic crisis. Very few of my friends think we are headed towards Scenario C. Probably 25% believe A and 75% think B. None of them think this is the “end times”.
I personally see this as a wake-up call to better manage our finances, our health, and our relationships. I see it as an early warning to become better stewards, faithful to God and His ways, no matter what the future holds.
Expect many measures to provide relief/aid to American small business owners in hard-hit sectors and likely even for the general population. For instance, I read today that if you have an income tax bill due April 15th, although you still need to file your return on time, you have a 90-day extension to make your payments.
Perilous Times When Fear Controls the Day
Satan will attempt to seize control of the world through fear. The most dangerous aspect of what we are witnessing now is not the virus or the economic downturn; what concerns me most is how fear is gripping the entire world.
The fear of death and the fear of financial loss are two of the Enemy’s most powerful attacks.
Of course, nobody wants to catch this virus or lose their 401K or retirement account or their comfortable lifestyle, but we can’t forget to surrender all that we have to God and be willing to lose everything for His sake.
We must be vigilant to watch for our response to fear as well as the rise of deceivers and those that would control the masses through lies and false promises. Remember, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (II Timothy 1:7 ESV)
A Crisis is Our Opportunity
The list above is only a partial list of our new normal as of the time of writing this article, which I am doing from home as our staff are all working remotely for the next few weeks! But instead of lamenting our challenges or following the practices of culture, as fellow believers, this is our opportunity to make a profound difference by going against the tide of fear, greed, deception and selfishness.
One of my friends said it this way:
“This travesty is an awesome opportunity for Christ followers to step up, invest and give more, and show why we aren’t as freaked out as people without the eternal hope we have.”
Important Practices in a Crisis
● Double Down on Generosity. Many family, friends and organizations are being impacted. We need to have an unprecedented outpouring of generosity. In Acts 11, Agabus announced that a great famine would spread across the world, as the Apostles gathered in Antioch, they determined to give, not hoard. This set the Church apart for the rest of human history. By avoiding the selfish tendency to protect themselves, they set the standard for how people of faith put others first in a crisis.
● Help Our Local Churches. Many churches do not have streaming services or online giving capabilities. When services are shut down, giving is severely impacted. Be sure your church is financially whole and able to serve others who are coming to them for help.
● Support Local Businesses. One church is helping local restaurants by nominating one each day for the congregation to patronize. The congregants order some take out meals from that restaurant and the church orders meal packs for those that are shut-ins or in dire straits. This is a bright light to the local business owners.
● Watch for Government Assistance. It is likely businesses and individuals will receive some sort of government assistance package. If you need to increase your savings due to the impact on your income or family, do so. If you do not, determine who needs the money more than you and pass it along. For the professional, they will be buying up stocks that Wall Street has put on sale. Maybe you should start an investment fund with the money you may receive.
The Lord instructed Joshua to be strong and courageous as he led others into the Promised Land. (Joshua 1:9) Courage does not make the fearful circumstances change. It changes your heart and mind towards those circumstances to enable you to remain emotionally calm, level-headed and action-oriented. Fear paralyzes and robs us of the confidence that faith gives us. Remember, faith, hope and love will remain… Let’s be active spreading those.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.