As I write this, millions of people are sitting at their jobs, pretending to work, yet all the while refreshing the Dow Jones page they have open in their browser, watching the fortunes of the nation evaporate. The government intervention of the past few days has done nothing to calm the markets, proving that the best intended legislation of man cannot overcome the innate fear of not-enough.
The pundits talk about ‘the market’ as some disembodied entity with a will and a plan, yet ‘the market’ is nothing more than the grand sum of faith, greed, and that grand ideal that lies between – the American dream – and ‘the market’ is reflecting the hearts of the marketeers.
Predictably, people are asking about the how-what-why-when of the crises. ‘How did it start? What is really happening? Why did we not foresee this?’ and of course, ‘When will it end?”
Conspicuously absent from the discussion is the question of ‘Who?’
Granted, there is a certain measure of villianizing CEO’s, the government and the scoundrels who convinced people to buy a $300k house with a $400k mortgage on $100k/year, but I haven’t heard much from the church about the ultimate Who. In other words, is God playing a part in all this?
It’s understandable why we don’t like going there. In a prosperous culture, pastors function more as chaplains than anything. The most common approach to crisis is to give comfort and bring perspective. That’s why we do the funerals, counsel the hurting and spend long evenings over coffee with the confused – to tell them that things will get better and the pain will subside in due time.
Unfortunately, in becoming professional care givers, we’ve lost the stomach to ask the hard questions of people and God – questions like “what part of this did we bring on ourselves?” and “Do I believe in a God who is in control of all things or am I going to write Him an excuse note for this one?” Those are disconcerting questions.
Already, the groans of disdain begin to stir…“God doesn’t do these sorts of things…”, but what makes us say that? We’re most insistent that He doesn’t do things like this because we cannot imagine a God who does. What we’re really saying is that if this is God, then God lies beyond our philosophy of how He should act.
As we enter times of difficulty, it’s imperative that we realign our philosophy with our theology. Remember that all-powerful God? Either He is causing/allowing the tanking of the stock market or He’s gone for a walkabout and things unravelled in His absence. Unless you’re a deist, He caused or allowed it…and if He caused or allowed it, there’s got to be a reason.
My concern lies less in this specific crisis, and more in what our reaction to it says about our God-thoughts. If we continue live in the dichotomy of believing in a God who is sovereign yet denying Him the right to act in a way we did not expect, we set ourselves up to be offended at God when He moves in a way that we did not anticipate or understand.
Before we hit refresh on that stock market page, perhaps it would serve us well to change the question from “How much can I afford to lose?” to “What can we learn in this situation?”.