Anxiety about the economy can cause stress. Economic uncertainty increases volatility.
Last week on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened more than 1,000 points down. The Dow saw huge declines early in the week, huge rallies in the middle of the week, and ended up closing the week little changed. Oil fell dramatically early in the week, and rallied sharply the later part of the week. U.S. second quarter inflation adjusted GDP came in at a strong 3.7 percent. Consumer sentiment fell and home prices were disappointing.
The Chinese stock market is now negative for the year after increasing nearly 70 percent earlier in 2015. The Chinese economy has slowed, but no one is sure of how much. Emerging economies are struggling. Upcoming Greek elections create uncertainty. Europe has the greatest refugee challenges since World War II.
Societal, political, and spiritual changes will also attempt to rob us of our peace. We see a beautiful young reporter and her cameraman murdered on live TV. Our Supreme Court redefined the definition of marriage which has existed for thousands of years. ISIS regularly releases graphic videos of new ways of horrifically killing innocent people. Other videos are released which show the marketing of the body parts of newly aborted babies. Recently discovered secret side agreements to the proposed Iranian agreement, make nuclear verification even more problematic.
While specifics may surprise us, general trends should not. The last days will be filled with turmoil; never-ending turmoil. But we are not of this world. The enemy would like nothing better than to get us to be anxious and fearful. He would like us to be distracted. Satan will attempt to keep us from focusing on the kingdom and to doubt the Lord's faithfulness.
Paul cautioned the Thessalonians not to let their minds be shaken or troubled concerning events of the last days.
"Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and concerning our gathering together unto Him, we ask you not to let your mind be quickly shaken or be troubled ..." (2 Thess. 2:1-2).
Specifically, we should:
- Decide to focus on the Lord regardless of circumstances. When circumstances attempt to distract us we should redouble our efforts to focus on the Lord and to remember his faithfulness.
- Decide to be ruled by peace, to be thankful and to abide in the Word in spite of any conditions.
- Seek and allow the Holy Spirit to give us peace and joy. Peace and joy are a fruit of the Spirit. The fruit is not dependent on the state of the world or any real or perceived threats we may face. Paul told us to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh, which implies a choice.
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord we have an everlasting rock" (Is. 26:3-4).
"Let the peace of God, to which also you are called in one body, rule in your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly ..." (Col. 3:15-16).
In Romans we are told the elements of the kingdom in the Holy Spirit. We are empowered by the Holy Spirt. Seek His fellowship and power.
"For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17).
We are more than conquerors. Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world. We have the infallible Word of God, the Spirit of the living God inside of us, and the right to use the name that is above all names. We have no reason to allow the devil to steal our peace.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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