The U. S. economy is changing at a rarely seen pace. Initial concerns about deflation have changed to concerns about inflation. Concerns about the strength of the U. S. dollar have morphed into concerns about dollar weakness. Concerns about a weak labor market have been replaced by concerns about an overheated labor market. Debt has been and continues to be a concern.
Anxiety about a devastating war in North Korea has changed to hope in a nuclear arms settlement. Territorial gains by ISIS have been eliminated as the military has retaken nearly all of their territory. The usage of chemical weapons in Syria has at least been discouraged. A trade war appears to be less likely, but it is still possible.
Domestically, investigative activities by the special counsel and the inspector general of the Justice Department continue to make headlines. Political lines are drawn and the hope for compromise on almost any policy appears to be diminishing. The country is equally divided.
The U. S. stock market is becoming known for its all-time record moves up or down. A strong opening is no guarantee that there will be strong close and vice versa. Significant breaking economic, political, military and/or judicial news occurs nearly every week and sometimes every day.
Change is inevitable. Changes can be beneficial or harmful, minor or life-changing and predictable or surprising. Wise decision-makers allow for change; they have a plan B, plan C and maybe even a plan D. When change justifies action, action is quickly taken.
In this life, citizens of the kingdom will experience change. The changes we experience can be from the Lord, from our enemy, of our own doing, or from totally unexplained sources. Depending on the circumstance, we should embrace, fight, determine to be wiser and more disciplined or ignore the change.
In general, human beings are resistant to change. Change can increase our anxiety, even if they are positive. We tend to find security in the familiar. Remember, growth does not occur without change. Promotion requires change, and overcoming negative changes to our lives is good training for future accomplishments. We are unlikely to accomplish our purposes without going through the fire of change. Fortunately, the Scriptures provide guidance.
- Recognize we are not alone. Significant change can induce loneliness. Whether the change involves the loss of a loved one or a promotion to leadership, the familiar has been upset. Close family and friends may not be able to fill the void, relieve the anxiety or empathize with your new concerns. The solution is found in God, and He has promised to never leave you.
- Be strong and courageous. Joshua was facing an enormous challenge. As an old man, he had just been promoted to take the place of Moses and was now in charge of 2 million people. He was supposed to take these people, who had a history of being obstinate and disobedient, across the Jordan River during flood time and to take possession of the promised land. The land was populated by strong and fierce peoples living in fortified cities. But in his charge to Joshua, the Lord told him three times to be strong and courageous.
"Be strong and courageous, for you shall provide the land that I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance for this people" (Josh. 1:6).
"Be strong and very courageous ..." (Josh. 1:7a).
"Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9).
- Discern the reason for the change. Is the promotion of God? Are the changes the result of our actions or poor decisions? Is the enemy attempting to discourage us from fulfilling our purpose? Is there a spiritual reason for the changes? There is a tendency to blame our poor environment, others, or even God for adverse changes. We need to honestly approach God to obtain His counsel and direction. We are promised that the Spirit will lead us into all truth.
"But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come" (John 16:13).
- Take action when appropriate. Some people will try to avoid taking action to mitigate an adverse change or will settle for the status quo to avoid making a needed change. Others will continue to seek the Lord for direction, which the Lord has already given. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is an action book filled with action words. Such words as "go," "make," "baptize," "teach," "give," "fast," "pray" and "repent" are common.
"'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen" (Matt. 28:19-20).
"So when you give" (Matt. 6:2a, NASB).
"When you pray" (Matt. 6:5a).
"Whenever you fast" (Matt. 6:16a).
"saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15, MEV).
To a large extent, our success in fulfilling our diving purposes will depend on how we deal with change. Are we willing to make the changes directed by the Lord? Are we going to let changes induced by the enemy stop us? Are we going to quit blaming others or God when our current situation is the result of our own poor decision-making? Let us have a new Spirit-empowered resolve to make the changes the Lord wants us to make, to resist the changes the enemy has orchestrated, to quit making excuses and move forward to a new season of fruitfulness.
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference" —Reinhold Niebuhr.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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