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Posted: March 20, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Handling the economic crisis

News commentator, author, columnist, adviser to three presidents (Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan), and one-time Presidential candidate (Reform Party, 2000), Pat Buchanan is a person of strong and often controversial views. Recently, like the ground hog, Buchanan has predicted a gray future; but, instead of six weeks of winter, Buchanan sees at least six more months of recession. In his March 3, 2009, column, titled, "Pitchfork Time," Buchanan wrote, "Markets are not infallible. But the stock market has long been a "lead indicator" of where the economy will be six months from now."

Buchanan is not alone here. In his book, "Fundamental Analysis," Jack Schwager — Fund Manager and author of four books on investing — wrote, "The stock market discounts the future not the present. It discounted the present 6-12 months ago. In other words, the stock market leads the economy, not the other way around."

I hope that Buchanan and Schwager are wrong. But say, just for arguments sake, that they are right and the economy is going to sink for another six months, how are Christians to cope? What are we to do?

Part of our survival strategy could be to read again the book of Ecclesiastes. It is clear that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes when he was battling depression, and some of the insight that God gave Solomon could help us today.

"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." The Hebrew word "Vanity" literally means, "puff of air." Solomon is saying that things we often put great value in can be gone quickly, just like a puff of air. Enough said.

"As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand." In other words, we can’t take it with us. In fact, we can hardly hang on to it right now.

"That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." This is probably the first time anyone said something like, "history repeats itself." This is not American’s first economic crisis. In 1932 the unemployment rate reached 25 percent.

"There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to gain, and a time to lose." In 1929 John D. Rockerfeller said, "In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again."

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days." Let’s hope so.

"Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might. The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep." In difficult times we can find comfort in simple things — in hard work, in food, drink, sleep. We should all be sleeping better now.

"Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the day." Reminds me of the Neil Diamond song, "Money talks, but it can’t sing and dance and it can’t walk, as long as I have you with me, I’d much rather be, forever in blue jeans."

And one more quote from Ecclesiastes, "Two are better than one, for if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Stay connected: stay in the church. In the current crisis, or any crisis to come, remember that Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Christians are bound to each other with bonds of love, and Christians do not let other Christians go hungry or homeless."

John Donaldson is the pastor at Newborn and Mansfield UMC, and can be reached at john.donaldson@ngumc.net

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