for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. (Ruth 1:20b-21a NAS)
When the Lehman Brothers, one of oldest names on Wall Street, filed for bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008, the entire financial industry was gripped with fear as to what might happen next, reported The New York Times. Within the same week, Merrill Lynch, under mounting pressure to avert deepening financial crisis, had reached a deal to sell itself to Bank of America for about $50 billion. While Lehman and Merrill were still hanging in the balance, insurance giant American International Group, staggered by losses stemming from the credit crisis, sought a $40 billion lifeline from the Federal Reserve. All these series of events culminated led to a worldwide economic crisis, and many institutions, corporations and individuals till this day are still struggling to contain its rippling effects.
As consumers, workers, entrepreneurs or investors, we are in one way or another affected by this financial crisis. With prices of consumer goods continuing to rise, businesses and corporations changing hands or closing down, individuals losing jobs or business opportunities, and bad debts on the increase resulting from investment losses or delay in financial repayments for mortgages, loans and credit lines, few today can remain nonchalant to what is happening in the financial world.
Like Job in the Old Testament, some of us may have once been rich or blessed with sufficient money to live comfortable lives. The financial crisis or some other events, however, may have left us with little to live on. Unlike Job who was able to bless God even in such situations (Job 1:21), we may have reacted like Naomi to say the Almighty has dealt with us very bitterly, for we were full when we went out, but the LORD has brought us back empty (Ruth 1:20b-21a).
Some years ago, I was faced with a similar situation that almost left me in poverty. I was out of a job, and it took me five years before I found another. During those years of waiting and looking for alternative work, I took on various freelance assignments. These occasional assignments however were unable to provide sufficiently for my small family, so I had to dig into my savings. Throughout the five years, I sought the Lord for sustenance, and He had never failed to provide for me and my family. Whenever there was a necessity requiring payment, the Lord would grant me a job assignment which would provide sufficiently for that time of need. Nearing the end of my savings, I was granted a full time job by the Lord to work in a multinational computer corporation as a technical writer, fulfilling my desire to write, yet without sacrificing my past experience as a technical support engineer in the information technology industry. Today, although I can no longer afford to spend on personal or family indulgence like before because of the shortfall in monetary returns, my family and I are living each day happily and sufficiently by the grace of God.
As believers, we should never live our lives as if there is no hope for tomorrow even when faced with surmounting crises in our lives. We should not be worried about our future as to what we shall eat or what we shall wear, for our heavenly Father knows our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). We should instead learn to recognize the many blessings God has already given us. Just as Naomi was blessed with the restoration of life and sustenance at old age through the birth of a grandchild and redeemer following the line of King David (Ruth 4:14-16), we can trust God to take care of our sustenance in times of need and be assured in our hearts He will surely provide for us and our families.
Forgive us Lord for feeling bitter over our loss of riches and for failing to completely trust in You in times of need. Help us Lord not to be overwhelmed by the crises we face in this world, but instead open our eyes Lord to see and recognize Your sovereignty in all situations. Move our hearts Lord that we may not be found ungrateful and lacking in thankfulness for the blessings You have given us. Lead us O Lord every step of our ways as we live each day with complete trust in You.