Seek God’s wisdom in tough economic times

My husband and I just lost our home. We got talked into buying it with nothing down and low payments the first two years, and we just didn’t think about what would happen later. Now we’re back in a rented trailer. We’re so discouraged we don’t know what to do. Maybe you’ll have some encouraging words. — Mrs. N.H.

My heart goes out to you, and to all who are facing hardship during these tough economic times. And I want to assure you that God cares about your situation and wants to encourage you and help you get through this painful experience. My prayer is that you will turn to Him and seek the wisdom and strength you need.

Yes, it would’ve been better if you had avoided the temptation to take on too much debt. As the Bible points out, when debt overwhelms us “the borrower is servant (or slave) to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). But don’t let yourself be crushed by what has happened. After all, you can’t change the past; what is done, is done. Instead, learn from it - and then ask God to help you focus on the future. God knows your situation, and He loves you and wants to help you.

Does this mean God will suddenly reverse your financial situation? I wish I could promise this — but I can’t. But I can promise that God will help you in practical ways if you’ll let Him - setting a budget, saving for the future and so forth.

Begin by turning to Christ and opening your hearts and lives to Him. Then be thankful every day for what He has given you, and trust your future into His hands.

I think you said once in your column that the Apostle Paul wrote his letters from prison. What was his crime? I’m in prison, and I know I deserve to be here, but why did a great Christian like Paul get put away? — D.B.

Yes, some of Paul’s letters were written while he was in prison — and it always strikes me how joyful and at peace he was, in spite of his circumstances. Typical were these words written from prison to the Christians in Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Paul’s only “crime” was preaching the Gospel — which some people violently rejected. Remember: The first Christians lived in a world that didn’t believe Jesus was who He claimed to be — the Son of God, sent from heaven to save us from our sins. The Romans had their own gods and goddesses, and were threatened by Paul’s message of repentance and faith in Christ. Some even claimed Paul and his fellow workers were dangerous to society.

Christians are still persecuted for their faith in some parts of the world. In fact, more people have died for their faith in Christ in the last 100 years than in all the other centuries since Christ. The Bible warns, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

What about you? No matter who you are or what you have done, God loves you, and Christ gave His life to forgive you. If you haven’t done so, confess your sins and open your heart to Jesus Christ today. Then ask Him to fill you with His joy and peace every day, no matter what others think.

Do you think Christ will come again and the world will end in 2009? I get very discouraged when I see the way the world is going — the economic situation, terrorism, crime, warfare, etc. — and I wonder how much longer God is going to let this continue. — Mrs. V.G.

The Bible clearly teaches that someday God will intervene and bring an end to this present evil world. This will happen when Christ comes again to establish His Kingdom of righteousness and peace. As the Bible says, “In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

But the Bible also warns us against making exact predictions, or claiming we know precisely when Christ will return. Just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told His disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set” (Acts 1:7). At the same time, the Bible urges us to be watching for His coming, because it could happen at any time: “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33).

Jesus did, however, tell us that certain events or signs must happen before He returns. For example, He warned that in the last days the world would be shaken by wars and disasters. He also said the Gospel must be preached to the ends of the earth. These signs are happening today.

The most important question, however, is this: Are you ready for Christ’s return? You can be, by turning to Him in faith and trusting Him as your Lord and Savior. Don’t let another day go by without Christ.

Please pray that I’ll know what to do with my niece. She’s in her 30s and on drugs, and after her family kicked her out she moved in with me. But last week, she stole money out of my purse to buy drugs, and now I’m not sure she’ll ever change. I guess I didn’t realize how terrible drugs are. — Mrs. D.McG.

Yes, drug addiction is terrible; almost nothing is as destructive and devastating — both to the person who’s addicted, and to those who care about them. Some of the most heartbreaking letters I receive are from people who have become enslaved by drugs — and from their families.

You are probably right; nothing will change for your niece if she keeps on living the way she is right now (unless she gets arrested or destroys herself). Small or halfhearted measures are seldom effective with someone in her condition.

This is why I urge you to speak with your doctor or pastor or other knowledgeable professional about the resources that are available in your community to treat drug addiction. Then seek advice on what steps you can take to get her committed to a treatment center.

But the most important thing you can do is encourage your niece to open her heart to Christ and seek His help for her problems. God loves her, and Christ can give her a new reason for living. The path ahead may not be easy — but with Christ’s help she can discover the peace and joy she seeks.

In addition, pray for your niece — constantly and fervently. No situation is ever completely hopeless, because God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201.