November 2008

In Times of Crisis

In an effort to be topical this month I started writing an article on the financial crisis. I began writing on the day that the stock market rose 17% in one day. According to the commentators, it was the largest daily rise in 20 years. On the radio it said it was the largest rise in 30 years, and in the following days paper it said it was the largest rise since the war. Though commentators suggested that we were heading for a tough year or so they also suggested the ‘decisive action’ of pumping a couple of zillion pounds in to prop up the banks (ie nationalize them) was the correct thing and it would oil the financial system. I started writing about hope.

The day after that, the stock market dropped 11% and was the biggest daily drop since a) 20 years ago, b) 30 years ago, or c) the last time. Iceland is supposedly bankrupt. As are half the councils in Britain – who all seemed to have put their (ie our) money into Icelandic banks. I started an unsatisfactory rewriting of the article along the theme of putting our faith in God not things of this world.

It was only a week or so before this that, with the world’s media giving a blow by blow account, the US congress finally agreed to pump $700 billion into the financial system as ‘the’ rescue plan, and commentators said it was a bold but necessary move. Within the week we have almost forgotten about it and the US government have come up with an even more expensive plan B, (similar to the UK governments Plan A) with a suggestion that we may need a plan C.

And by the time you read this article, a few weeks after it emailed it’s way to beat the magazine editor’s deadline, where will we be? Economists smiling and congratulating themselves that things will be OK in the long run? People jumping out of tall buildings in Canary Wharf as the next financial meltdown happens al la the Great Depression? (NB Though I’m reliably informed that this can not happen – you can not open a window in our modern air conditioned skyscrapers, so you can’t get out to jump.....)

With the monopoly money amounts of billions and trillions being thrown around, I guess the real impact only strikes home if you are one of those who has already ‘taken a hit’. If you have lost your job, or can’t get a mortgage, or can’t afford to pay your food bills. It’s then that the esoteric workings of the financial system really mean something – it’s your job, your house, your meals that are threatened.

In times of crisis, it can be very easy to make wise pronouncements and give sound advise. If you are on the receiving end of the pronouncement and advice it never sounds so wise. Can I make a suggestion though? In all of the uncertainty and insecurity, remember the story told by Jesus of the two men who each built a house. One did so on sand, and when the crisis hit his life fell apart. The other had a deep and firm foundation. He still got hit by the storms and floods – but at the end his life was still intact.

For most of us, there is little guarantee of jobs, housing, or food that we like. But there is a guarantee that if we truly know God as revealed in Jesus and place our trust in him we will be there in the end. For He is there with us.


November 2008