Confidence during an economic downturn
A Christian Science perspective.
Even though the latest news from the stock market is more positive than it has been in a while, plenty of people are concerned about the financial bottom line. Many have seen their retirement funds decline significantly and hope they will recover soon. They fearfully watch their bank accounts or stock portfolios to see if they'll go down further or recoup losses.
Fear is never a good guide. It prevents us from taking intelligent steps that might lead to sounder footing. It may even strong-arm us into rash decisions. But how does one stop being fearful when faced with declining life savings, a dwindling retirement nest egg, or not enough funds for a down payment for a house?
At times when I've confronted severe financial challenges I've discovered a much more reliable guide than fear. God has led me through some pretty stormy seas. One example was when I was in college. I'd put myself through three years, and had one more to go. My summer employment gave me enough to get started, but I would also have to work during the school year. A friend asked to borrow some money, so I loaned him all I'd earned that summer with the promise that he'd pay it back in a month. That didn't happen. I had nearly no money to register, pay for books, or find a place to live. And for the first time in my life, I couldn't find a job.
I prayed to silence the fear by knowing that divine Love, another name for God, was guiding me right then and there and that nothing could stand in the way of my hearing what direction to take. I felt impelled to return to a place where I'd previously worked, although I knew that if I worked there, the commute from school would be too long. So it was unclear why I felt so strongly about going there. Then, as I walked down the hall, a woman called out my name. She'd been wondering how to get in touch with me. Every year, this lovely retired schoolteacher put a student through college, and that year she wanted me to be her beneficiary. Soon I had everything I needed to register and pay for books and supplies.
Gaining the confidence to actually trust God and listen for His guidance grows as one gets to know the beneficent, merciful nature of God as Love. In the textbook on Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the author, Mary Baker Eddy, included an interpretation of the Lord's Prayer. She interpreted the first line, "Our Father which art in heaven," as "Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious" (p. 16). The very action of Father-Mother Love is to harmonize or adjust whatever turbulent circumstances one might face – insufficient funds to finish college, unemployment, health issues, or troubled relationships.
Listening for God's unfailing guidance sometimes feels daunting, especially when reports of an economic downturn seem constant. Divine direction could be described as "angel thoughts." Science and Health explains that angels are really "pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love" (p. 298). These thoughts derive directly from God's infinite intelligence and boundless love. They do God's work by assuring us of His care for each of His ideas, providing hope, well-being, and, ultimately, tangible solutions.
The Bible introduces two angels, named Michael and Gabriel, with very different attributes, described in Science and Health in this way: "Michael's characteristic is spiritual strength. He leads the hosts of heaven against the power of sin, Satan, and fights the holy wars. Gabriel has the more quiet task of imparting a sense of the ever-presence of ministering Love" (pp. 566–567) So whether we're facing despair, discouragement, fear, or anger, Science and Health continues, "These angels deliver us from the depths."
Angels guarded and guided Jesus' disciple Peter when he was unjustly cast into prison. The Bible says: "The angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him" (Acts 12:7–9). Today, as then, angels will free us when facing any kind of trouble.
Heeding these pure thoughts will guard you from making poor financial decisions and guide you to do what's necessary to secure your economic footing. God constantly imparts these angel messages, so solutions are always available. Knowing this will strengthen your confidence, despite whatever circumstances swirl around you.