"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!" So says the old proverb. With high unemployment, tight credit, and forecasted deficits rising with each passing week, we certainly have our share of economic lemons around us. Here are some of the positive things I see brought into my life from the economic downturn:
The gifts of God's people are more sacrificial and therefore, in a sense, more meaningful in difficult economic times. You remember the story of the widow's mite, don't you? As you get closer to her economic stratum, your faithfulness to give reveals more and more the depth of your commitment to honor God with your substance.
The Lottery Jackpot. I am opposed to the state lottery, but I have found a way for the Lord' to work good in my own heart through our lottery billboards posted around town. Whenever I see one (like today) announcing a $325 million jackpot, I take that as an occasion to breathe a prayer to the Lord and say, "Father, I'd rather be worth [whatever I'm worth] and be in your will than to have $325 million and be outside your will."
Yes, the odds are 1:175,711,536, and yes, that's a different situation by far than actually turning down $325 million. Nevertheless, it is a good thing to look for chances to tell the Lord that He is more valuable to you than is money. Lottery jackpot billboards are one of those occasions for me, and all the more so when economic times are tight. For these difficult times are a great opportunity for us to clarify in our own hearts that we serve God and not Mammon.
Economic downturns give us an opportunity to talk about priorities. We are presently planning church calendar and budget for 2010. We've done remarkably well so far this year, considering the year, but much of that is because we're not foolish spenders here at FBC Farmersville. Now, planning for next year, I find that the membership and pastors of our congregation are even more prone to have good discussions about which expenses are the most important in connection with the basic mission of our church.
It would be great to have so much money that we could just spend and spend and spend without ever worrying about running out of money (and indeed, if FBCF has ever actually worried about running OUT of money, it has been long, long ago). But there is value...great value...in knowing why you exist, knowing how your activities and expenses connect with why you exist, and reviewing everything carefully. If downturns in our economy force more of us to do that at our churches, at our businesses, and in our own personal lives, then that's a good thing.
I don't go out of my way to look for policies and practices that wreck the economy and make life difficult on people, but a recession we have (soon to be coupled with oppressive taxation), and we might just as well look for the good things that God will do with these difficult circumstances. Romans 8:28, remember? That's exactly what He does.