In many parts of the world, it's a challenging time to be a consumer. Prices are up and economic optimism is down. The Reuters/University of Michigan survey results released last week show that consumer confidence is at a 28-year low in the United States.
Difficult financial times and slow economic growth force us to examine the ways we use our resources and how our spending patterns affect the communities around us. It's sometimes difficult to be confident about our own and our families' prospects when conditions seem to be heading in a bad direction. It's not unnatural to ask: Is there something I can be confident in, when so many factors in the world economy appear unstable?
The answer Christ Jesus would have given – and he went through times not unlike these – is that God is present and active in the life of each of us. God's law of provision and opportunity is ever at work in a permanent and unchangeable way. It doesn't fluctuate with oil supply or food costs but remains steady and consistent. Remembering this helps eliminate fear and gives us a better focus for our lives.
Even though it may appear that we're dependent on employment, location, or other people for prosperity, in actuality we're dependent only on God. The Bible reassures us that even when life seems hard, we can trust divine guidance to keep us safe and secure.
This psalm expresses God's care for His children: "The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever…. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand" (37:18, 24).
God is Mind, divine intelligence, and we can count on Him to show us what to do when times get tough. As we pray, we can trust that God is giving us the ideas we need to live satisfying and productive lives. He is holding our hands today, just as He stayed close to the writer of that psalm years ago.
With God as the foundation of all our decisions, we can expect to make intelligent financial choices. While it is certainly not wise to overspend, we can resist the grip of fear that leads to hoarding resources. Keeping God at the center of our reasoning will show what's best for our unique situation.
Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper, often had to make difficult decisions in business and while overseeing the many aspects of the Church she founded. Prayer enabled her to stay composed even when conditions were uncertain or chaotic. She knew that divine intelligence was an infallible guide. She wrote, "Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious – as Life eternally is – can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 495).
Because we're under God's care, we each have what it takes to stay calm. There's not only one formula for appropriate consumption, but listening to God and following His direction provide a better sense of the best steps to take to maintain and improve our lives and the lives of those around us.