I’m not an economist. I’m a pastor. And I’m not making any doom and gloom apocalyptic predictions. However, like you, I’ve read the articles that talk about record-high unemployment and the probability of a severe recession or worse. I know firsthand that my retirement account is bleeding out. And yes, our giving at the church I pastor is significantly down.
Most of us have never seen times like this, and I don’t know for sure what’s coming; neither does anyone else.
Here’s what I do know: People are afraid, and fear often leads to depression. The unknown often sends us into a dark hole of frustration that leads to discouragement that results in despair.
Television news, talk show radio broadcasts, and the plethora of news app articles all seem to add one layer of angst on top of another. We’d love to find a silver lining somewhere, but that’s hard to do in the middle of a storm.
Please read this next sentence slowly (and maybe twice): There are no simple solutions to complex problems, but trouble doesn’t have to destroy us.
As humans, we have the God-given ability to adapt.
As Christ-followers, we have the God-given ability to persevere.
We acclimate and adjust. We endure and carry on. And in times of hardship, we even can grow.
I refuse to offer up in this post any worn-out clichés. I’m not going to tell you just to suck it up.
However, how can you and I survive—and even thrive—when we are fighting great depression?
1. Remember what God has done.
When I stop and reflect on all the moments God has come through for me in the past, it gives me hope for my present and my future. He’s never abandoned me. He’s never going to either. As my friend, Sam Rima, says, "The best indicator of God's future behavior is His past performance."
2. Choose an attitude of gratitude.
I know I promised no clichés, but we do have a choice. 99.99% of us have a roof over our heads and enough food in our bellies to survive. (In my case, I can survive for weeks on the fat I have stored on my body.) I don’t get to choose all of the circumstances I face, but I always get to choose my attitude. Thankfulness is both healing and contagious (far more so than any virus).
3. Kick pride in the gluteus maximus.
Pride keeps me isolated when I think, I’ve got this, and I can face it on my own! No. I can’t. You and I were created to need God and others, and there’s nothing wrong with needing help. Raise a white flag. Call somebody whom you trust to speak the truth in love to you. Isolated people get devoured by lies. Connected people are healthy people. We were made to be in community.
4. Generously meet the needs of others.
Seriously, the quickest way to get out of any hole (mental, emotional, or financial) is to be radically generous. Big-hearted, open-handed kindness toward others is like a wind that comes into your soul to blow out all the smoke. It’s funny; when I am intentional about meeting the needs of others, my needs don’t seem quite so overwhelming. Go figure. It really is more blessed to give.
I don’t know what you’re facing. Maybe it’s the hardest and darkest thing ever to come your way. I’m so sorry. Really. But the only way up and out of the funk you are in is to stop focusing on yourself and be more like Jesus. Didn’t He say, “If you want to find your life, you must lose it” (Luke 17:33)?
May I pray for us?
Father, we are facing scary times and uncharted territory. For some of us, there’s never been a darker moment in our lives. But You are light. You are hope. And You are present. So let us feel Your arms around our hearts. Hold us tight. Help us to remember that You do some amazing things in the dark (like create a world and give resurrection life to Your Son)! We need you. We need each other. Thank you for your love. In Jesus' precious name, I pray, Amen.
13 Are there any believers in your fellowship suffering great hardship and distress?
Encourage them to pray! Are there happy, cheerful ones among you?
Encourage them to sing out their praises!
4 Are there any sick among you? Then ask the elders of the church to come and pray over the sick and anoint them with oil in the name of our Lord.
5 And the prayer of faith will heal the sick and the Lord will raise them up,
and if they have committed sins they will be forgiven.
James 5:13-15 (TPT)