Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Great Depression II?

Every time I watch the news, it seems as if this current economic crisis is looking more and more like the 1930s. Now tent cities are springing up near many American cities, reminding me of the “Hooverville” shantytowns of the 1930s. We’ve had bank failures, a steep stock market decline, double-digit unemployment (factoring in the underemployed and those who have given up looking for work), and venerable companies either going out of business or in danger of doing so. All we need is a dust bowl and the picture would be complete. This is a worldwide phenomenon, with an estimated 50 trillion dollars in wealth lost so far as a result of stock market declines, fraud (i.e., Bernie Madoff), bankruptcies, loss of value of homes and other assets, and other factors. That is a staggering amount, and the world economy is expected to shrink in 2009.

Many Americans are living in fear and uncertainty, and can you blame them? Either people have very inadequate savings because they have been spending rather than saving, or their savings have declined significantly in value. If somebody loses his or her job, he or she could be in deep financial trouble almost immediately. Little or no savings, a house that won’t sell, and if it does, it might sell for less than the mortgage amount. To make matters worse, if you do have money in an IRA or 401(k), you’ll be penalized if you take the money out earlier that age 59½. Young people might be able to temporarily move back with mom and dad, but not everybody has that option.

In such times, we must look to God for our help as well as for peace and comfort. These are trying times, and it is no time to ignore God. I encourage you that if you are living in fear (and who isn’t), start going to church. There you’ll hopefully find God, you’ll meet others facing similar circumstances, and you’ll find a church family that cares. You’ll be uplifted and encouraged by the worship, and upheld by the fellowship. Don’t go it alone!

(by the way, if none of that happens, try a different church. I know a nice one in Beacon, if you’re interested).

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