Jumping Off the Front Porch

February 5 and subsequent days have not been good times for the stock market. The largest point drop in history took place February 5 with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing lower by 1,175 points. Since then, there have been more major down days. I was tied up on February 5 in meetings one after another after another, and it was only at the close of the day that I knew the market had been so bad.

I was talking with a friend and the topic came up of the awesome drop. Like many of the folks on television and in their own homes, we were talking about what it meant. I reminded him of the stock market crash in the fall of 1929, when panic spread across all the land. Some people in desperation felt they had nothing for which to live and took their lives, literally jumping from buildings because they could not face the crisis that was taking place. I told my friend, “Don’t you go jump off some building somewhere.” He said, “Well, you know where I live we don’t have any high buildings. About all I could do is jump off my front porch.” I urged him not to hurt himself by taking that two- or three-feet dive off his porch.

February 5 was truly not a good day for the country, the stock market, and people who have investments and retirement tied up in the stock market. For some reason I thought about the man who was the keeper of the jail in the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. The Bible says when an earthquake hit the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison were open. For the jailer whose responsibility it was to keep all the prisoners locked up, the ultimate crisis had hit. What could he do? In panic he pulled his knife to kill himself. Taking that dagger and putting it to his chest, he was about to end it all because he thought his life had reached its end.

At that point the greatest moment in his life occurred when Paul and Silas said, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here” (Acts 16:28). The jailer said, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). The moment of truth and joy and endless possibilities was right before him. Paul said to him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31), and that is what the jailer did. Not only did he come to know the Lord, he brought his whole family to the Lord.

Life has its ups and downs, its earthquakes, and its Dow Jones shakes. What should we do? I encourage you to ponder three simple words that will make a difference for you on crisis days and every day:

n First of all, think. Stop and think about what’s taking place. For the jailer, his crisis turned out not to be the end of his world. For most people across the land, February 5 was significant but not a world changer. It was the largest point drop in history — but it was not the largest percentage drop by any means. That’s important. This is a good time to think about what it is in which you actually put your confidence: the Lord, or stocks and bonds or your own clever investment process? Worldly gain is always subject to adjustments, changes, even crashes.  The truth for the believer is that at the end of the day, your value is what God has made you to be and not what dollars and cents and stocks and bonds make you think you are. Think about life. God’s life in you and for you, and the value of what that means in light of that in which you may have put your confidence.

n The second word is trust. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Ps. 56:3), says the psalmist. Every denomination of money we have in America includes the phrase, “In God we trust.” Well, do it. Trust Him. As Paul and Silas encouraged the jailer, put your trust in the Lord. Let Him do what only He can do and you can rest in Him. It is, “In God we trust,” not “In Dow Jones we trust.” Find a quiet moment to get with the Lord whatever the circumstances around you and come to that peaceful, joyful experience of resting and trusting in Him.

n When you think and while you trust, go a further step and thank. Thank God for what you have. Thank God for the things that are lasting – a family that loves you, and friends and church relationships that are meaningful, nurturing, and strengthening to you. In 1929 when the stock market crashed, there were people who lost everything. Their stocks and bonds and investments all completely vanished, never to return. That has not been true in 2018. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped only four percent on February 5, and most of the earnings reflected in that four percent was what we had gained in January 2018.

For what do you thank God? Thank Him for all of the blessings He has given you that bring some sense of security and help. Thank God that February 5 wasn’t nearly as bad as people made it out to be and that you are not just at the mercy of the ups and downs of markets. Rest secure in the mighty hand of God and His unfailing love and grace to you. For today, think, trust, thank — and whatever you do, don’t jump off your front porch. You might skin your knee.

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer