I WATCHED in amazement as our modest investment for the future descended in value to an all-time low. Whether we're investors or not, the plunges on the stock market, and their effect on business generally, demand our attention. Financial analysts give us the economic causes. Some of them are a weak dollar, rising interest rates, the federal budget deficit, the trade imbalance. However, behind the spectacular drop in stock prices that affected markets from Asia to America lies another culprit: fear.
Many market observers have said that there have been two motives on Wall Street, fear and greed, and that suddenly fear became stronger than greed. It seems in this instance that panic pushed reason into the background.
While few of the economic causes of the fall can be corrected overnight, we can do something about mental causes like fear. In time of crisis we can always pray. This is a powerful influence in lessening fear and in bringing to human thought a reassuring sense of God's government and provision. The Psalmist wrote of those who ``cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.''1 When financial storms threaten to engulf us, that is also a good time to pray.
The Bible is full of accounts of people who found that God gave them calmness and strength in time of great need. Joseph, foreseeing harvest failure and a famine in Egypt, was guided by God to take certain steps to prevent the famine. Moses, charged with leading a nation through parched desert lands, trusted God and, even when the people panicked, found calmness and trust in God's guidance, which led him to discover water for them all.
Our prayer at this time can be a prayer of petition, asking God to guide all those involved to take wise steps to correct what needs correcting. It can also be a prayer of affirmation, in which we thank God that man, made in His likeness, is not governed by greed or selfishness but by divine wisdom and love. And it can be a prayer of rejoicing that in the reality of God's spiritual universe -- which is the only true realm, governed unerringly by God, perfect Spirit -- He is in absolute control, and there is nothing out of control. Far from ignoring a crisis, our clear perception that this is reality, in its truest sense, can help bring to light something of the natural harmony of God's government.
It's important, too, to realize God's omnipotence. Because He is all-powerful, fear is not the power it seems to be, and therefore it can be diminished through the potency of prayer. It's helpful to realize as well that each individual is actually under the direct jurisdiction of God, blessed by His goodness and love, and is not the victim of the mistakes of others nor himself directed by selfish motives.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.'' She continues, ``What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the `Peace, be still' to all human fears, to suffering of every sort.''2
We can, today, take time to be still; to silence fear, turning in love and trust to our heavenly Father for guidance. Then we will find the calmness that enables us to contribute to the solution of this challenge.
1Psalms 107:28, 29. 2Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness....I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:10,13