“What this country needs is a good recession,” my grandfather announced at a family dinner.
“Oh, Dad.” My mother rolled her eyes. Then she promptly forgot about it until our economy actually went into a recession.
I heard the story last Christmas season. I was groaning about the growing number of irritable and rude people that I encountered during each trip to Walmart, the department stores, the elementary school parking lot. Maybe it was the economy, I theorized. Everybody’s stressed about money and the dismal economic outlook and making ends meet during the very season when we’re expected to spend extra money to buy our loved ones gifts. Mom mentioned my grandfather’s remark, how she dismissed it at the time, and then paused.
“You know, I think this recession will separate the sheep from the goats, the people who really trust God to provide for their needs and the people who don’t. Maybe we needed the reminder of what it means to follow Jesus and truly trust him with our finances. Our country has been so prosperous that we’ve forgotten who gave us the prosperity in the first place.”
So if I trust God with my money, I wouldn’t have to run around like a maniac. Not that I’ve ever been a maniac before, of course.
At this point, I could morph into a schoolmarm and lecture on God’s financial provisions, etc., etc. But I’d really be a hypocrite. For one thing, I’ve never worried over money. I’ve never had to. Never had to live on a strict budget. I’m a spoiled brat in that regard.
What I can relate to, though, is worry over my health and needing to trust God with it. I’m not the healthiest person in the world; since my younger daughter was born two years ago, I’ve been sick at least once a month on average. That in spite of eating right, regular exercise, and all the other things everyone touts as healthy. They ain’t working. There is obviously some underlying conditions: some obvious, others not.
So what’s the solution?
In my kitchen cabinet, I’ve got a medicine dispenser with all those lovely pills the doctor has prescribed for me. (For me! Just me! I don’t have to share with anyone!) Two white medium sized pills. A tiny peach pill. An itty-bitty baby purple pill. A dual colored oblong pill. And that’s just for the a.m. session.
They mostly work. Key word: mostly. If they stop mostly working and start moving towards infrequently working or never working, I call the doctor and whine until he adjusts the medications.
The problem comes when I start putting my trust in those pills to keep my healthy and forget who it is that made my body, keeps me breathing, gave me the money to pay for the pills, and allows my body to absorb them properly so they do their job.
I forget that. Not mostly or infrequently but almost all of the time.
Until I’m sick.
It’s as if my healthy body is a stable economy, and my sick one is the recession that can wipe out my savings account, run up my credit card debt, and make my checks bounce. It’s like Bernie Madoff running a Ponzi scheme with the systems of my body. One day, I think I’ve got enough energy to last through retirement; the next, my body crumbles before my eyes. It’s hard to deal with emotionally and spiritually.
A recession in my body.
I have a choice: despair over this recession (and resent God for not forcing that itty-bitty purple pill and the oblong one to work!) or take comfort in the fact that God is still sustaining me.
I still swallow the pills, follow the doctor’s instructions, search for answers to the health problems. But I don’t put my trust in those but in the one who gave me the times of good health and provides the pills for the times of bad health. I’ve found that it’s the times when my body isn’t working that I have to question whether I’m truly trusting God or trusting in pills.
The recession is exactly what my soul needs.
Just something to think about.