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Mark Finley
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Hope for Troubled Times

How to Prepare for the Coming Economic Collapse

Mark Finley

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Copyright © 2020 Middle East Publishers, Beirut, Lebanon

Hope for Troubled Times Series

7) How to Prepare for the Coming Economic Collapse

Authored by Mark A. Finley

Manuscript edited by GC Publishing Department

Translation by Adventist Commons

Cover and Layout Design by Adventist Commons

Cover Image by GC Publishing Department

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We are just beginning to experience the long-term economic consequences of COVID-19 on our personal lives and our families. The short-term consequences with thousands dead and hundreds of thousands more sick were bad enough, but there are significant additional consequences that society now faces. The economic impact of the pandemic is hitting many families full force. Many of the unemployed during the crisis are going back to work, but they are still experiencing the effects of lost income from their time off, and the debts they incurred. The stock market plummeted during the pandemic, with millions of people losing almost all their life savings. The entire world economy is on extremely shaky footing, and we wonder whether life will ever be the same. The economic picture for the foreseeable future is dire. Many of the businesses forced to shut down because of the lockdowns may never recover. In a report to Adventist Church leaders, investment specialist Tim Aka made this astute observation: “Many people are living paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings.” The results of the coronavirus pandemic has thrown them into a financial dilemma. Unemployment rates in the United States reached more than 20 percent, the highest level since 1934. Europe’s Gross National Product dropped nearly 15 percent in the second quarter of 2020 alone. One report indicates that “[the United States’] and Eurozone’s economies could take until 2023 to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, according to a new report from consultancy McKinsey and Company.”

Latin America and the Caribbean will see the largest contraction in economic activity in its history in 2020, because of the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a United Nations agency warned on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), based in Santiago, Chile, the combined effect of pandemic-hit external and domestic factors “will lead to the worst contraction that the region has ever undergone.” This simply means more people will be out of work, more companies will go bankrupt, more families will be under enormous financial stress, and more countries will struggle to provide basic services for their populations. The poor and underprivileged will suffer the most. Because they are dependent on their daily wages and have no savings accounts, they are often unable to provide even the necessities of life for their families.

The international markets have experienced a serious downturn. Dozens of countries could soon suffer from devastating famines as a result of the coronavirus, an official with the United Nations said.

Famines of “biblical proportions” may be experienced in the coming months because of such factors as reductions in foreign aid, the price of oil, and tourism, according to David Beasley, director of the UN’s World Food Programmed Branch.

“There are no famines yet,” Beasley said. “But I must warn you that if we don’t prepare and act now—to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade—we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a few short months.” “Millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the specter of famine a very real and dangerous possibility” (New York Daily News, April 22, 2020).

Confronting the Issues

What impact will all of this have on our personal finances? How will this impact our families? What impact will this disruption in society have on our mental health? What long-term consequences might there be on our physical health? Most of all, what can we do to survive the catastrophic consequences of COVID-19 and other pandemics or catastrophes that strike us? This is not the first disaster that has ever hit our world, and it will not be the last. How can we stay strong amid these worldwide epidemics and natural disasters that are striking our world with increasing frequency? We will focus on four specific areas of survival: (1) How you can survive financially in a time of crisis; (2) How your family and especially your children can survive; (3) How you can survive physically; (4) How you can survive emotionally.

How to Survive a Financial Crash

In the sixth century before Christ the wealthiest man in the world was Croesus. Croesus was the king of Lydia from 560 to 547 B.C. He is credited with issuing the first true gold coins with a standardized purity for general circulation.

One day King Croesus asked the philosopher Solon who the happiest man in the world was. Solon’s answer as recorded by the Greek historian Herodotus went something like this: “To live well, you must prepare to die well.” There is something tragically wrong with a society that is obsessed with making money. Seeking happiness in material things leads us down the road to nowhere. Attempting to fill our lives with things only leaves us empty. Solon was right. There is more to life than simply making money.

Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review, made a very perceptive statement 40 years ago. It was true then, but it is even truer now. “We are so busy extending ourselves and increasing the size and ornamentation of our personal kingdom that we have hardly considered that no age in history has had so many loose props under it as our own.” We are so busy buying that we have failed to realize that there are some moral screws loose in our society. The foundation is cracking. We might just be investing our money in the wrong places.

The Bible presents eternal financial principles that make sense. It reveals financial secrets that most of the world does not know. It encourages us to reevaluate our priorities—to seek the eternal rather than the earthly. God’s Word leads us to make investments that will pay off in the long run. Here are three financial principles outlined in the Bible that will enable you to survive any financial crisis.

1) Accept the eternal truth that God is the Creator of this world and the owner of everything in it.

David records God’s words to him at a time of great need in Psalm 50. God reminds him that He is the Creator and in charge of this world in these words:

“Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness” (Psalm 50:10-12).

David responds to the marvel of God’s Creation in Psalm 104.

“O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions—this great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great” (Psalm 104:24, 25).

Isaiah the prophet adds that the world is God’s not only because He created it, but because He redeemed it. “Thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine’ ” (Isaiah 43:1).

When our Lord created this world, He entrusted it to Adam. God gave Adam dominion over the entire creation (see Genesis 1:26). When Adam sinned in Eden, he surrendered his right of dominion. Lucifer, the fallen angel, usurped the dominion and claimed the lordship of the earth. Bible writers often refer to Lucifer as the “prince of this world” or “the prince of the power of the air” (see John 12:31; 14:30; Ephesians 2:2). Christ’s sinless life and substitutionary death fully paid the ransom for our sin. At the cross Satan’s fate was sealed, and complete restoration pledged for this planet (see Ephesians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; John 12:31, 32). God is the true owner of this world, both by creation and redemption. Everything we have is a gift of His grace. We are stewards of goods entrusted to us by God. We are and were Christ’s. He created us, and He redeemed us. This world is His. He made it in the first place and shed His blood to redeem it. Understanding this concept—that Christ created us and redeemed us—makes all the difference. What we have is really not our own. Moses admonishes us to “remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18). The talents we have to make money come from God. The ability to work comes from God. Every breathe we take comes from God. He is the one who opens doors of opportunity for us to survive economically. He is our provider, our sustainer, and our supporter. What we have is a gift of His grace. Everything we have is His because He has created us and redeemed us. We are stewards of His possessions, not owners. The apostle Paul clarifies this point in these words: “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

A steward is one who manages another person’s property, finances, or other affairs. And that is what we are—stewards—under God. For we do not own this world or anything in it; God, as Creator, owns it all. Yet He placed Adam and Eve and their descendants in charge of it all by giving them “dominion” over the other creatures and by placing them “in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). But Paul teaches us that as stewards we are required to “found faithful” in everything we manage, including finances. Jesus adds, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10).

Godfrey Davis, who wrote a biography about the Duke of Wellington, said, “I found an old account ledger that showed how the Duke spent his money. It was a far better clue to what he thought was really important than the reading of his letters or speeches.”

How we handle money reveals much about the depth of our commitment to Christ. That’s why Jesus often talked about money. One-sixth of the gospels, including one out of every three parables, touches on stewardship. Jesus wasn’t a fundraiser. He dealt with money matters because money matters. For some of us, though, it matters too much (Our Daily Bread, August 26, 1993).

2) Believe that the God who created you and redeemed you cares for you and will provide for you.

In Philippians 4:19 we have an eternal pledge: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” To all who are faithful stewards, God gives the assurance of supplying their needs. The needs of God’s children are already underwritten by the bank of heaven. Jesus stated, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ... ‘What shall we wear?’ ... But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).

A pandemic does not eradicate the promises of God. COVID-19 has not erased the assurance of God’s eternal Word. The coronavirus need not cause a crisis of confidence in God’s ability to solve our problems and provide for our needs. It can lead us to deeper faith, greater trust, and more secure confidence in God. Amid our greatest challenges, God’s promises are still there.

I have seen this powerfully demonstrated in my own life. My father became a Seventh-day Adventist when I was 13 years old. As the result of his commitment to keep the Bible Sabbath, he lost his job. In addition to that, Dad made the decision to be faithful in returning his tithe and offerings. To meet the needs of our family, Dad worked three part-time jobs. Life was not easy, but I often remember him quoting two Bible promises.

When I wondered how God would provide for us, in his quiet, confident manner Dad would first quote Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” And then he would add Philippians 4:19: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Dad’s faithfulness and settled confidence in God gave our entire family the assurance that in our time of trial God would come through, and He did. We may not have had all the luxuries of some families, but we had something worth much more: a father who was faithful to God and who gave us the assurance that we could trust God with the totality of our lives. When times are tough and our finances are limited, trusting God in these trying times is an act of faith. It is saying, “God, I believe You can care for me. I place my life in Your hands. I believe Your promises.” Giving is a tangible expression of our faith.

The very essence of the Christian life is trust. It is trusting God with our finances, our health, our time, and our very lives. It is faith that the living Christ who has provided us salvation through His grace and power through His Holy Spirit will fulfill His promise to supply our needs. It is trusting, even during a global pandemic that may touch our lives and the lives of those we love.

When we trust God in trying times, it gives God the opportunity to do for us “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). It opens the door of our hearts to receive His abundant blessings. Faith enables the riches of heaven to flow into our lives from His abundant storehouse of grace. God is still in control in every crisis. A terribly devastating pandemic does not wipe out His promises. Living lives of trust, we are secure in His love today, tomorrow, and forever.

3) Choose to reorder your priorities in view of the coming of Jesus.

The Bible makes some remarkable predictions regarding an economic crash during the last days of earth’s history. The greatest treasure we can have is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ—the Pearl of Great Price. He offers us abundant joy, inner peace, and lasting satisfaction. The fleeting pleasures of this world are soon to pass away. When our happiness, contentment, and security come from our material possessions, and then the economy suddenly crashes, we are left discouraged, downhearted, and depressed; but when our faith is anchored in Jesus and the eternal treasures of His Word, we are secure. The apostle James reveals the last-day delusion and disappointment of those who have made a god of their money.

“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter” (James 5:1-5, NIV).

In an article published on November 19, 2020, for the online magazine The Balance Everyday, titled, “Lottery Curse Victims: Seven People Who Won Big and Lost Everything,” author Sandra Grauschopf describes the devastating results to seven entire families who won the lottery. Family relations deteriorated. Lavish spending replaced frugal living. Greed consumed their joy, and very often drug or alcohol abuse followed.

When a family in New York won the Irish Sweepstakes, they were overjoyed. Dad was a steamfitter. Johnny, who was 26 years old, loaded crates on docks. Tim was going to night school. Dad split the million with his sons. They all said the money wouldn’t change their plans. During the following year, conflict erupted in the family. The boys weren’t speaking to their father or to one another. Johnny spent his portion of the winnings on expensive racehorses; Tim spent it on lavish parties and the women he dated. Mom accused Dad of hiding his portion of the lottery winning from her. Within two years all of them were in court for nonpayment of income taxes. “It’s the devil’s own money,” Mom said. Both the boys were drinking excessively and were on track to become alcoholics (from Chuck Rasmussen, “Winning the Lottery”).

When our happiness is dependent on the amount of money we have, we are chasing a mirage. Money provides only temporary satisfaction and superficial happiness.

The book of Revelation describes an economic collapse that is coming just before the return of Jesus. Those who have trusted their money as a source of happiness will be greatly disappointed. What they have lived for will quickly vanish. Their dreams will be dashed. Revelation 18 predicts a sudden economic collapse that stuns the world. Revelation 18:17-19 says that the merchants of the earth are weeping, because in “one hour such great riches came to nothing.” The antichrist power has attempted to unite humanity around a counterfeit day of worship. In an attempt to usher in world peace and security, it has established a confederacy of religious, political, and economic powers. Natural disasters, economic collapse, political conflicts, and social chaos only harden hearts and make the antichrist more determined to accomplish its purposes.

While God sends an appeal to the entire world to unite with His true commandment-keeping people, this union of church, state, and economic powers says, “ ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her” (verses 7, 8). Verse 19 adds, “In one hour she is made desolate.”

The great confederacy of evil persists in its opposition to God and is blind to what is about to happen. The kings and the merchants—the political and economic interests that have united themselves with this apostate religious system—mourn her fall. They united with her and lived luxuriously because of her as they exercised power over the earth. Now they fall with her and mourn as they suffer God’s punishment. They do not mourn for their sins and their rebellion against God. They mourn because of the consequences of their sins. Suddenly there is an unprecedented economic collapse, and in one hour their riches come to nothing. They have placed their confidence in the wrong place. They have trusted in their wealth and material possessions rather than placing their trust in the promises of God. This leads us to a very practical question. How can our families survive an economic crisis?

Your Family Can Survive Tough Times

There was a massive study done in the United States involving families across America on the impact of the coronavirus crisis titled, “Snapshot of the COVID Crisis Impact on Working Families.” The study was authored by public policy and economics scholars at Barnard College, Columbia University (in New York City), and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University (in Durham, North Carolina), Elizabeth O. Ananat and Anna Gassman-Pines. The study was published on the Econofact Network on March 30, 2020. It proposed that “the outbreak of the novel coronavirus will deeply impact many American families.” We might add that although this study was done on the impact of family life in the United States, its results will be replicated in countries around the world.

As of March 25, 2020, 21 percent of the people studied reported being permanently laid off, while another 20 percent gave an account of being temporarily laid off. A majority of the sample, 55 percent, indicated that someone in their household had been laid off. Of those who were able to keep their jobs at that time, 51 percent experienced reduced hours. These numbers, according to the study, were more severe and happened more quickly than what took place during the Great Depression, which started in 1929.

Willie and Elaine Oliver, family life specialists, write, “To be sure, when a family experiences the loss of income, this reality is associated with high levels of anxiety and depression, in addition to other mental health challenges. Sadly, these mental health effects of job loss are not likely to be short-term. Prior studies have discovered significant surges in both adult and youth suicide resulting from economic recessions. In fact, mental health tends to decline significantly, even among those who do not experience family loss of employment, even when the rates of unemployment are much smaller than we are experiencing during this pandemic. It is worthy of note that these outcomes impact other areas of life, including triggering lower levels of student test scores and causing lower levels of college attendance among those who live through these experiences during adolescence. These cumulative consequences, in the short term and long term, are more remarkable for disadvantaged populations, resulting in health disparities and achievement gaps, which are already larger and are more likely to increase.”

Satan, the archenemy of Jesus, is the originator of every evil in the world. Whether working through the Pharisees and other religious leaders of His day to undermine the work of God on behalf of the salvation of sinners, or being the cause of a pandemic that is robbing millions of their lives, livelihood, and future well-being, the devil is always up to no good. The good news, to be sure, is that God is not like an absentee landlord that has left us to fend for ourselves. Rather, He sent Jesus that we might have the abundant life, regardless of the assaults of the evil one.

Despite the incredible pressure economic crises put on families, there are things parents can do to keep themselves and their children sane during this time of instability and unpredictability. Willie and Elaine Oliver make these practical suggestions:

1) Ask your children what they are thinking about, and simply listen. Even if they say things that may alarm you because they might be true, don’t be alarmed or allow it to show on your face. Your children need a safe place to talk and an opportunity to express their feelings, and it is up to you to provide this space.

2) Set the example you want to be followed in your home. Take care of yourself spiritually, physically, and emotionally by spending time with God, exercising, eating nutritious food, and thinking positive thoughts. Practice being patient and kind, as is written in Scripture (see 1 Corinthians 13:4).

3) Pray with your children on a regular basis. Allow your thoughts to be turned to God, who has promised never to leave you (see Matthew 28:20); to keep you in perfect peace (see Isaiah 26:3); and to provide all your needs (see Philippians 4:19).

How to Survive Physically During Tough Times

When our finances are in serious trouble, it takes a toll on both our own physical health and the physical health of our families. Pandemics bring with them serious consequences, even after the pandemic is over. Researchers have clearly shown a correlation between poor health and declining life spans for months if not years after a major influenza or some other catastrophic health crisis. They have also discovered basic health principles to enable us to survive in times of crisis. Most deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic were from those having such pre-existing conditions as heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. Simply put, the stronger your immune system, the greater your possibility of surviving a pandemic. The better your physical health when the crisis breaks, the better your possibility of surviving.

On April 20, 2020, the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an article on the role of nutrition and our health habits in surviving a pandemic.

The authors stated, “At the individual level, the common denominator that drives most of the nutrition and dietary recommendations to combat viral infections, including COVID-19, lies within the link between diet and immunity. In fact, existing evidence highlights that diet has a profound effect on people’s immune system and disease susceptibility.”

“Therefore, the responsibility of the individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic lies in making an effort to choose a healthy lifestyle, eat diets high in fruits and vegetables, exercise during free time, try to maintain a healthy weight, and get an adequate amount of sleep. In addition to taking care of one’s dietary intake, the collective responsibility of individuals is to avoid the spread of misinformation related to nutrition and dietary intake, and the COVID-19.”

The article goes on to make these eight recommendations. Consider these recommendations as survival guidelines for any health crisis.

1) Try to eat well-balanced meals.

2) Avoid irregular snacking.

3) Choose food rich in vitamins A, C, E, B6, B12, zinc, and iron, such as citrus fruits, dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts, and dairy products.

4) Maintain a healthy lifestyle of exercise at home.

5) Get adequate sleep.

6) Spend time meditating

7) Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs

8) Don’t buy into quack or unscientific miracle cures.

God’s intention for you is to both survive and thrive during times of crisis. This is why He says, “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). Although we live in a broken world of sin, suffering, and sickness, and we cannot always avoid disease, God’s intent is for us to, as far as possible, live healthy lives. As we make positive choices, our immune systems will strengthen and our health will improve. It is never too late to begin making the best possible health choices for ourselves and our families.

How to Survive Emotionally During Tough Times

Worry and anxiety have gripped millions of people. They are afraid that the coronavirus or some other disease may strike them next. They heard about the rising death toll and trembled with fear. They were concerned about their children or grandchildren or elderly parents, and many of them still are. Or possibly it’s financial fear. Many people are worried that they may not be able to pay their rent or their mortgage. They are concerned about a business that has closed, and are fearful they will not have a job when this pandemic is over. For some it is even more dire—they are concerned about how to feed their families. They are on edge filled with uncertainty about the future. The answer to crippling fear is trust in God’s love, care, and provisions for us.

The Word of God provides real-life examples of God’s people in crisis and how they developed deeper trust in trying times. These biblical stories reveal eternal principles that are faith building. They were written in another time and another place, but they speak to us at this time and in this place. They were written centuries ago, but speak with relevance in the twenty-first century to a world devastated by a devastating, death-dealing pandemic.

God Is Still in Control in Times of Crisis

Judah faced a crisis. Devastation and death were at its door. Catastrophe seemed certain. The great Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III was on a rampage to conquer the Middle East. He had already conquered much of western Asia. Uzziah, king of Judah, was the leading figure of resistance against Assyrian aggression. Uzziah had reigned for 52 years (791-739 B.C.). During Uzziah’s reign the nation prospered. Desert areas were reclaimed. Jerusalem’s walls were fortified. The nation expanded its territory. Judah’s prosperity was largely because of Uzziah’s faithfulness to God, but in an act of arrogance and presumption he attempted to burn incense in the temple and was immediately stricken with leprosy and eventually died. The nation was devastated. Their long-time ruler was dead. Doom seemed certain. All hope of resisting the apparently invincible Assyrian armies danced away like a shadow. The nation’s inhabitants were paralyzed by fear. An enemy invader was approaching, and there seemed little they could do about it. They were helpless and hopeless.

At the time of this catastrophe, Isaiah writes, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). In the midst of a crisis heaven’s throne is not vacant. God reassured His people that He was still in control. He was still sovereign. The crisis did not catch God by surprise. God has not left us alone in times of our greatest trials. Pandemics rage, but God is still on His throne. An enemy invader, COVID-19, ravaged the land, but in these trying times we can learn lessons of trust. When fear gives way to trust, peace floods into our lives. Isaiah the prophet reassured God’s people with a powerful promise. His message comes echoing and reechoing down the corridors of time: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever” (Isaiah 26:3, 4). The simple key to surviving any crisis we face is trust—believing that the Creator of the universe, the Redeemer of this world, and our living Lord, loves us and cares for us no matter what we are facing or ever will face.

When disease ravages our land, when our bodies are racked with fever, when life seems to be falling apart, we can still trust. We can trust that through His Holy Spirit, God is with us. He is strengthening us, encouraging us, supporting us, giving us hope of a better tomorrow, pointing us to the day when sickness, suffering, and heartache will be no more.

BackCover


What can we do to survive the consequences of pandemics or disasters that strike us? How can we face economic collapse?

Through practical advice, studies, true stories, and scripture this booklet will lead you to know how to be prepared not only financially, but also physically and emotionally during tough times.

7. How to Prepare for the Coming Economic Collapse

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