The headline called out from newspapers around the world – the ongoing credit crunch had claimed another victim. This time it was German businessman Adolf Merckle. A bespectacled and balding 74-year-old family businessman, Merckle lost hundreds of millions of euros last year in the financial markets, according to The Wall Street Journal. Distraught over the difficulty in obtaining a 400-million euro loan from a consortium of German banks to help right his business interests, he chose to end his life along a rail line near Blaubeuren-Weiler, Germany.
News articles noted this was far from the first suicide tied to the current economic crisis – a French financier who lost a reported $1.5 billion on behalf of his clients, with a suspected Ponzi scheme involving Bernard L. Madoff, was found dead in his Manhattan office before Christmas.
From my years as a pastor, I can testify that comforting a grieving family is always a challenge, but when the family is grieving over a suicide, it can be even more difficult to find the words to console. However, one truth can always be agreed upon: Whatever reason someone thinks warrants suicide, it’s too high a price to pay.
For that reason, allow me to remind us all that in God’s economy we are worth far more than what shows up in our bank account or financial statement. How valuable are we? We are so valuable to God that we were ransomed (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45) with the blood of Christ. God thought us so important that he sent his Son as a ransom for many. That makes our wealth and account balances – whatever their size – pale in comparison.
These are tough times. In a recent message to our GuideStone trustees, we shared from Deuteronomy 11:11-12, which says, “But the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.”
Resources and practical tips
Though we have walked through the valleys during the recent months with volatility in the financial markets, we have been through these experiences before.
The 90-year heritage of service by GuideStone Financial Resources means we’ve survived some valleys before – the Great Depression, world wars, terrorist attacks and multiple recessions. It is during these valleys that we learn the real lessons of life. Ups and downs in the financial markets are a reality. Whether we are in an up cycle or down cycle, we must remember that God is our resource. His eyes are always on us.
During these tough economic times, GuideStone has prepared an online resource to answer participants’ questions and concerns. Whether you’re a GuideStone participant or not, we invite you to visit our Web site at www.GuideStone.org/marketwatch to read our articles and watch the helpful videos.
During these challenging circumstances, we would do well to remember some basic tips:
– Maintain your investment discipline;
– Prepare for emergencies; diversify so your investments are appropriately allocated;
– Remain rational; and, perhaps most important,
– Don’t neglect your tithes and offerings. In uncertain times, nothing makes us more content than giving.
We know times are tough and economic indicators don’t point to a quick resolution to this recession – already the longest in a generation. Layoffs are mounting and people with once-secure careers are finding themselves out of work, sometimes for months on end. If your trust is in a new president, or a new Federal Reserve policy, or new congressional action, you will surely be disappointed. If your trust is in the Lord, you never will be disappointed.
The challenges we are facing globally may not subside soon. This may be a longer valley than we’ve experienced in our lifetimes, but we know who holds the future and we must trust him to provide for us yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our God is the Sovereign Lord whether we are in a recession or in a rebound. As we lead in our respective places of service, may we encourage one another to see God’s guiding hand “through it all.” He has not abdicated his throne and we, here at GuideStone, are committed to serving you in any and every way possible in these days.
Hawkins is president and chief executive officer of GuideStone Financial Resources.