The day President Trump said we must get back to focusing on the economy, social media Democrats once again used it as an opportunity to attack him. They suggested that he only cares about money and not people. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. As a pastor, I view every life as valuable. The lives that COVID-19 has taken is a tragedy, but we must strike a balance between the economy (and its health/life benefits) and COVID-19 (and it’s health/life costs).
The reason the economy is so important is that it holds everything together. If Jesus doesn’t care about money (as some say) why did He talk about stewarding it more than any other topic? Make no mistake here: The economy is not just about finances, it’s about safety and security as well as health and vitality. It’s the glue that keeps everything together. Money is not the root of all evil; God uses it to accomplish His purposes. It's the love of money that's at the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).
Why a Healthy Economy Is So Important
I’m a very optimistic person by nature, but we need to be honest about what’s going on. God’s Word tells of times when He allows dire situations in the lives of His people so that hearts would change or that we would be prepared for what He was about to do. Ponder this for a moment: Essential workers continue to be taxed and wearied. They are already feeling the weight and fear of prolonged stress.
Add to this the millions of Americans who are, and who will be, unemployed. If we fail to re-ignite the economy, the stress will become unbearable. Alcoholism and drug addiction will begin to wreak havoc on America unlike anything we have seen before. Families will implode as spousal and child abuse skyrocket. The suicide rate will reach distrubing new levels. Home values will plummet, and banks will not be able to perform. Everything we took for granted will begin to vanish. Imagine limited cash, food, and transportation.
People are already going crazy, and we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg. What happens when all hell breaks loose and the effects of COVID-19 begin to do a hundred times more damage because our infrastructure and our economy have collapsed? This is when mass hysteria and rioting could break out as a deep state of depression, fear, and anxiety set in. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” as well as angry (Proverbs 13:12).
This is why the economy must be the focus again by Easter. The stimulus package is just that—a short-term stimulant. If people are not allowed to go back to work, it will only prolong the inevitable. Yes, we may need to isolate a few hot spots, but the vast majority of America needs to get back to work, and our churches need to be the voice of truth pointing people back to God.
What scenario would you rather have? Deal with COVID-19 with the economy and infrastructure in place (current global mortality rate is only around 1.5%), or experience everything and more mentioned above? Without infrastructure, people will simply be left to die. Again, I’m not trying to scare but to prepare. The Titanic has been struck. Do we lower the rafts or sit on the deck?
Wake Up, America! The Solution is Simple, but Not Easy
All the information thus far surrounding COVID-19 is a little fishy. It supposedly developed in Wuhan where other diseases have originated, not to mention that one of China’s top laboratories is located there. Now China seems to be purchasing companies in Italy and America and sending Chinese workers to these facilities. They are also purchasing different ports of entry. America, wake up. The Trojan Horse is at the city gate, and our adversaries are taking advantage of the crisis. If we continue to cripple our economy, it will only serve to increase China’s power and influence.
In addition to bringing back the economy, we must constantly turn to God and His Word. Psalm 119:67 reminds us of an essential truth: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” Affliction via difficulties, challenges, and obstacles can lead us back to God. In one fell swoop, COVID-19 has dethroned all our idols. We are finally realizing what is really important. In this sense, I am very encouraged since this is fertile ground for revival. Revival thrives in brokenness, repentance, humility, and passionate prayer.
In the book of Joel, great swarms of locusts had devoured the land, and the people's provisions had dried up and withered away (1:4-12). They were desperate and despondent as their hope vanished. But God didn't give up on them. He told Joel to tell the people to consecrate a fast—this showed the magnitude of their sin and the need for desperation—and to come together to a sacred assembly, which represented the incredible power of unity. Then finally, they were to go into God's house and cry out to Him (1:13-14; 2:12-17). The crying out via repentance became their all-consuming priority, and it needs to be ours as well.
I am concerned that America is fearful but not repentant, anxious but not surrendered to God, worried but not worshipful, confused but not diligently seeking Him. What will it take to draw us back to God? Like the Israelites in Joel's time, we must change course and cry out to Him in repentance with prayer and fasting. God heard His people then, and He will hear us now—once again pouring out His Spirit on a dry and thirsty land, for whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:25-32).