Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, January 31, 2009

In Troubled Economic Times, the Lord is Our Help

Pastor’s Window for February 2009
In Troubled Economic Times, the Lord is our Help

Beloved in the Lord,

There is no more arguing the point, these are troubled economic times in our nation and particularly in the state of Michigan. Depending on whom you listen to in the media, this is either the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, or just another recession the likes of which we saw last in the late 1970s/early 80s. But all are finally agreed, we have a significant problem on our hands. And while the talking heads and politicians have only now come to a consensus about that fact, you have known all along friends and family members who are suffering, or perhaps you are suffering yourself.

In these times, many in our nation look to a new president to bring change and economic salvation. Others believe the free market, if left to itself, will recover on its own. Regardless of your political persuasion, I hope that as a Christian you see that both options are deficient. In troubled economic times like these, the Lord alone is our help!

We confess this biblical truth when we pray the words of Psalm 145:15-16 (many of us appropriately use these verses as a table prayer): “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (ESV). This is another way of saying what St. James writes: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (1:17). In other words, God provides. And His providence is determined by His infinite wisdom, in His way, according to His time.

The God who provides for your salvation in Christ Jesus, who sacrificed His own Son for the forgiveness of your sins, brings you to saving faith by His Holy Spirit working in Word and Sacrament, and grants you eternal life and salvation, this God will also provide for your physical needs. You are His own child in Holy Baptism. How can He forsake you? He forsook His Son Jesus on the cross so that He would never have to forsake you. So great is His love for you! Therefore you can count on God to provide for your bodily needs as well.

But God doesn’t provide for your bodily needs according to your wisdom, in your way, or according to your schedule. He alone knows what is best for you and for all people. And sometimes, as strange as it may seem, hard times are what is best. This is where faith has to confess along with St. Paul that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Those “all things” include economic hard times, unemployment, home foreclosures, dwindling retirements, and the like. These are for our good, says Paul. But how? We must admit that in some ways we will never know the answer to that question in this earthly life. Nor does God owe us an explanation. But we can say some things about it. God uses times of suffering to drive us to rely on Him alone and not on money or jobs or presidents or economic principles. He uses these times to drive us to repentance for our idolizing of these things, fearing, loving, and trusting them more than God. By depriving us of certain things, He may also be removing temptations that could cause us to forsake the faith. In other words, He uses these times of suffering to cause us to despair of ourselves and all things temporal, so that we find our salvation in Christ alone.

He also presents us with an opportunity in these difficult economic times. He presents us with the opportunity to be the hands of Christ to our neighbor. He gives us the opportunity to share what we have received from God with our neighbor in need. And if we are that neighbor in need, He gives us the opportunity to swallow our pride and receive the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ. On whichever side of the giving and receiving we may find ourselves, we remember what our Lord said about this exchange: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). Christ gives through the hands of His people who have something to contribute. And He receives His people’s good works through the hands of His people in need. The Lord is our help through the hands of one another.

We are building an alms box to be placed in the narthex. The idea is that if you have something to give over and above your regular offering, you can place it in that box. It will be used for our Good Samaritan Fund to help those in need, beginning with those in this congregation. And if you are in need, talk to me. We may not be able to provide for all your needs, but we can assist you. It is what we are called to do for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. And we do so in the confidence that God is working all things for our good, and that He will provide what is best according to His wisdom, in His way, and in His time.

Pastor Krenz


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