As some of you know, my husband and I both work at one of the larger financial institutions headquartered in NYC. Our company has been in the news a lot lately. If the term “zombie bank” (a phrase that’s just been fabulous for employee morale) rings a bell – that’s us. Each quarter, since November 2007, we have watched management cut deeper and deeper into headcount across the board. During the last “lay-off” 60% of my team got wiped out. My manager, a senior executive, told me that he didn’t know what to wear to work that day. He needed his wife to help him select a suit because, after all, “What do you wear to an execution?” After the tumult there is always the obligatory “regrouping” meeting where the remaining leaders do their best to assure survivors that the “worst” of the storm has passed. To the extent that they are able, they give the remaining “team” a pep talk, make respectable efforts to rally the troops, and then send us on our way. We all shuffle out of the conference room quietly back to our desks wanting to believe what we’ve just heard but incapable of shaking the distinct feeling that we’ve been there and done this before. I won’t even mention the numbness that must be “turned on” in order to make it through the day as the sudden absence of friends and co-workers whose desks and offices have been abruptly vacated leave us all emotionally stunned.
I try to get my hands on as much information as I can on the economic outlook, and the stock market. I take particular interest in this as it relates to my employer. I talk to as many people as I can. I ask them as many questions as they are willing to answer. I especially like to get reports from my husband’s business group because traders, as opposed to investment bankers, usually have a unique perspective. In my efforts to sort fiction from fact, I try to discern if viewpoints come from a particular political stance. I try to figure out if there is some agenda driving a certain perspective. Who is saying what? Why are they saying it? Is the data being presented complete, conclusive, skewed, or even manipulated? I talk to anyone who looks smart. I look for anything to read. I listen to, or watch, anything that could possibly contribute to a greater understanding of this current crisis that we are in. After months of doing this (and I’m a little tired) the only thing that I can come up with or say with absolute certainty is this: No one knows anything, including me. As such, despite my interest, I have determined that I don’t care anymore what anyone has to say about the stock market, the American economy, the global economy, my employer, or my employer’s peers. The only way to stop these raging waters that keep breaching the levees and threatening to overtake us all is to exalt the one “who sits enthroned upon the flood.” (Psalms 29:10).
Currently I am reading, “I Exalt You, O God: Encountering His Greatness in Your Private Worship”, written by my favorite author and teacher Jerry Bridges. It is a 31-day devotional that focuses on a different aspect of God’s character each day. I won’t be so presumptuous as to say that now more than ever before in our generation, Christians must exalt Him, but I will be so bold as to say that now, more than ever before, I must exalt Him!
On “Day 6” Bridges helped me take my eyes off of the things of the earth that God happens to call “his footstool” (Isaiah 66:1) and back on Jesus, the Lion of Judah, (Revelation 5:5) who, as God would have it, is seated at His right hand, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:22)
Bridges talks about the greatness of God and the error of comparing this incomparably awesome God to the situation around us. “The fact is, we do compare God to our circumstances, our problems, and the issues of society around us. We compare – and these circumstances and problems often seem bigger than God. Moses did this when the people of Israel grumbled over their lack of meat. God had promised to give meat not for a day, but for a month until they loathed it. Moses was incredulous:
Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, “I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!” Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them? (Numbers 11:21-11)
Moses was saying that even if the impossible did happen he still would be facing an insurmountable crisis. His outcry underscores just how grave the situation was and I do not believe his reaction was overly theatrical. I can appreciate him assessing the realities with his natural mind and coming to the conclusion that he did: “Stick a fork in it; we’re done.” Moses was facing a catastrophe with absolutely no viable solution. It was a critical state of affairs and he started to do what we all are tempted to do when we face the impossible. He made the severity of his situation equal to God.
God responded to Moses and said, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” (Numbers 11:23) Bridges brings back to memory some other people who faced impossible predicaments or situations: “God also asked Abraham’s wife, Sarah, ‘Is anything to hard for the LORD? (Genesis 8:14), and he said through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’ (Jeremiah 32:27). Again the answer is an emphatic no. As the angel Gabriel told Mary, ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ “
Bridges is right. One of our problems is that “we limit God to what we can imagine as possibilities” but that “God is not limited to our most creative ideas.” He brings it all together with this final thought, “We, too, will trust God to the extent we fear Him; to the extent we stand in absolute awe and amazement at His great power and sovereign rule over all His creation.”
I have many friends, and loved ones who are currently surrounded by impossible personal circumstances: The recent loss of a job; a prolonged period of finding a job; the threat of losing of a home that seems to grow more and more imminent by the second; the diminishment of a 401K over 60% right before retirement; bills that keep coming; and bills that come out of left field, and the list goes on. A realistic assessment of things would lead you to ask, “How can this thing NOT end in total catastrophe?” Well, we are going to make it. God has possibilities and solutions to each and every crisis that we can’t even imagine. He is the God who holds each teaspoon of water that makes up every single ocean on the earth in the hollow of his hand! (Isaiah 40:12) He is the God who, if every single world leader and every single nation were to unite forces and rail against him He would scoff and laugh. (Isaiah 40:15,23) He is the God who actually holds the dust of the earth in a basket, and has scales to weigh the mountains. (Isaiah 40:12) He is the God who never grows tired, never grows weary, and whose understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28)
This market has everyone on edge. But you know what? This market does not belong to the bulls or the bears. This market belong to Jesus, the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah! He is the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is, who was, and who is to come. (Revelation 1:8) He is the One who “carries on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (Isaiah 22:22) He is the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God and to him be honor and glory for ever and ever. (I Timothy 1:17)
My prayer for all of us facing the impossibility of a real life situation is that the knowledge of this incomparably great God would grow to overshadow any humanly impossible situation.
God is, and always will be on the throne! God, He reigns!