Is it Time to Hide or Thrive?
Is it Time to Hide or Thrive? — Jay Zinn
In 2009, I invited a guest speaker to share his research on the current economic trends and what secular economists were predicting about this country’s future. It was very informative and especially encouraging when he told us about the personal experiences he went through during an economic downturn in another country. Obviously, (and hopefully) we are all in a temporary economic downturn until this pandemic crisis passes.
No one likes to hear about the uncertainty of these times daily from the national and state briefings, but it does provoke a turning from apathy to prudence in the stewardship of our finances. It also acts as a reminder to not put our trust in uncertain riches (Proverbs 23:5; 1 Timothy 6:17), but in the Lord, who is our ultimate Provider.
There is a two-edged sword, however, when it comes to predicting things about a “not so” positive economic future and the closeness of the end-times. The good part is that it reminds us that we are pilgrims on a short journey. The opposite part is that a ceaseless, steady diet of negative daily news creates paralysis, anxiety, fretting, and fear about the future. The latter I want to address.
As far back as the early church, we see scriptures warning us about the return of the Lord and apocalyptic times. Paul the apostle addressed it, John wrote in the Revelation about it, and many early church fathers believed it to be imminent. In the church of the 20th century, many preached that Jesus would return in their lifetime, and went on to be with the Lord without seeing it come to pass. Many believed during WWII that Adolph Hitler was the antichrist.
Forty-eight years ago, a preacher in the church I first visited told me that Jesus was coming back, and the young man sitting next to me said it could be that very night. I decided that it was a good day to be saved and accepted Jesus into my life. No regrets about getting saved, but no return, yet, of Jesus.
I was at the stadium where David Wilkerson, a prominent evangelist in the ’70s, preached the rapture could come at any moment. A popular 70’s author and end-times expert, Hal Lindsey, had written a bestseller about the social, economic, political, and biblical signs that led him to conclude that Jesus was coming back very soon. Also, in the ’70s, economists, and end-time teachers predicted such a weak economy that people were stockpiling their basements with food.
In the early ‘80s, Henry Kissinger was believed to be the antichrist. In 1988, a book got circulated throughout the entire American church entitled “88 Reasons Why Jesus Is Coming Back in ’88.” Many believed and prepared for it. In my early years as a pastor, I sincerely believed and taught that Jesus would be back before 2000. The Y2K predictions, too, had generated the sale of many books on prophecy. And by the way, just about every Pope in church history has been a top contender for being the Antichrist. This is now 2020.
I could go on, but you get the point. Jesus IS coming back, and I do not doubt that because the Word of God says he will. I also believe, based on all that’s happening in the world, we could be close enough for it to be in my lifetime. But only history proves prophecy and the predictions of all end-time teachers—including my teaching.
The bottom line is that no one can accurately guarantee the timing of specific predictions regarding the economy or the coming events of the end times—not even in times like these. Yes, we can read the signs of the times and the trends. We can also understand the “cause and effect” principle from dangerous choices that have to be made by our governments. Prayer must aggressively ascend to heaven in an appeal to God for wisdom, guidance, mercy, and divine providence, not only for today but for the next generation if the Lord tarries in his return.
Don’t let today’s predictions of doom and gloom (by economists, doctors, or end-time teachers) take away your peace and joy. As Christians, we don’t have to live in fear but circumspectly in faith. We are told by Jesus to be vigilant about today (Matthew 24:42), but not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34).
In all reality, we don’t need the sudden appearance of cataclysmic events out of Revelation to make life inconvenient and downright miserable. Anything can happen that’s tragic enough to accomplish the same thing, like this coronavirus, a tornado, a hurricane, a flood, widespread fire, a severe accident, an earthquake, death of a loved one, an unexpected doctor’s report and other tragic things that have the potential to rob us of our joy and peace. So we must live with the understanding and disposition that Jesus told us to have when he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV)
My advice, therefore, is to make a mental note that challenging days do lay ahead, and we should live as though Jesus could come at any moment. Keep your hands to the plow and your eyes on the sky, too. But in your living, keep on doing business as usual until he comes. That was the message Jesus gave to us in a parable (Luke 19:13 NKJV). We must approach the future circumspectly and with optimism, taking what we have and multiply it until he comes back.
In every bad economy, there are two types of people: pessimistic victims and optimistic creatives. The pessimistic victims whine and scramble for cover, fretting, paralyzed, and worrying while they miss out on the opportunities that optimistic creatives discover. Look at how quickly the optimistic creatives have taken this pandemic as an opportunity to turn their enterprises into creating products that can help mitigate the spread of this disease.
We must see the problems ahead as opportunities to find a niche and fill a need. Opportunities to build community (through social media if need be). Opportunities to reach the lost who are being awakened to their vulnerabilities and need for God. Opportunities to stimulate the creative entrepreneur within us and see there’s income that can be made out there and, with God’s help, find a way, a place, and a recession-proof product to make it.
Let’s be encouraged by God’s promise that he’ll never leave us nor forsake us. Let’s keep working creatively within the restrictions we’re currently in, trust God, be frugal, be givers, invest in our talents and vision toward the future, maintain our peace through intimacy with Christ, not fret about what tomorrow might bring, and go forward to advance God’s kingdom.
This pandemic, as severe as it’s been on our economy and the economies of the world, will soon reach its peak and pass. God will create new things out of this time and a future to continue to prepare our hearts for his return.
Every generation has faced its own economic and socio-political challenges and got through it. So will we for God is always good, always providential, and always on the throne. Jesus gave us the best insight for times like now…” In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33
In my next blog, I’ll address how revival follows calamity. God is using this pandemic to reset his church and prepare for the spiritual awakening that could be happening right now.
Grace and Peace to you all!