by Larry Burkett

"Economists See Rosy Long-Term U.S. Future" said the headline above a recent Los Angeles Times article. The reporter interviewed economists, demographers, business leaders, and government officials, many of whom believe the U.S. economy is poised for a golden age that could last well into the 21st century. The article pointed out the positive economic effects of computer technology, bionics, bioengineering, and advances in telecommunications. It talked about how living standards are much higher today than 20 years ago and are expected to go much higher still. I certainly agree that exciting advances are taking place in technology and, yes, we do enjoy a higher standard of living today than ever before. But I strongly disagree with the notion that we're on the brink of two more decades of virtually unbroken prosperity. Remember, except for one relatively minor recession in 1990-91, we've been enjoying mostly steady economic growth for 15 years already. And with the build-up of debt, which has grown to unprecedented levels among consumers, I believe a recession must come due within a decade or so--a situation likely to produce a disastrous effect on our economy. There's an even greater reason why I believe we won't have an economic golden age for the next two decades: We have strayed far from God's standard and, as a nation and as a Church, we are ripe for chastening. From history it is clear that God sometimes uses economic upheaval to shake people out of their spiritual lethargy and draw them to Himself. Henry Blackaby and Claude King give one such account in their book, Fresh Encounter, Experiencing God in Revival and Spiritual Awakening (Broadman & Holman). "The years leading up to 1857 were years of tremendous growth and prosperity for America. The population was booming. People and businesses were becoming wealthy. The 'cares of this world' captured the minds and hearts of Americans, choking their interest in God and His kingdom. Churches were declining in numbers, strength, and influence." (Does any of this sound familiar?) Burdened about the situation, a lay missionary in New York City began holding a series of prayer meetings, crying out to God to revive His Church and send spiritual awakening to the lost. God answered those prayers through a great financial crash that put tens of thousands of people out of work and caused many bankruptcies and bank failures. "In the midst of (financial) disaster and with a great hunger for God, people flooded the prayer meetings by the thousands. The meeting spread across New York City and around the nation. Businesses even closed to allow their employees time for prayer... (R)evival spread like wildfire across the country... (A)t its peak, fifty thousand people were converted every week." Make no mistake, God is sovereign over this economy. If He decides to use economic calamity as a means of turning people to Him, no amount of tinkering by the Federal Reserve, the White House, or the Congress, will be able to stand against His plans. I don't know that God will chasten the nation as He did in 1857, but I do know that God's people need to be prepared and in a position to help others if He chooses to do so. My advice is to enjoy good economic times while they are here, thank God for them, and use the fruit of these times to store up for the future. Don't be lulled into thinking it's going to be smooth sailing for the next 20 years. It won't.  

Reprinted by permission, Christian Financial Concepts Inc.