This was originally published under a different title on March 11, 2009. I thought it was time to bring it back. How much things haven’t changed in the past eleven years. This was true then and is perhaps even more true today. I’m republishing it with only minor editing for readability. (You might even find yourself in the comments.)
Lately I’ve been thinking about all the hullabaloo regarding preparing yourself for the hard times ahead. Preparing for hard times is a good thing. But I wonder how much of the “helpful” information out there about how to prepare is causing people even more stress as they try to find security in every area of their lives they possibly can. And while the information may be good, it is way too easy to get wrapped up in the details and miss the main point.
Everyone says to plant a garden. Great. But if times are bad enough that you need to depend on that garden to get you through, someone else will probably jump the fence at night and take all your hard work. So grow some food if it makes you feel good, but planting a garden isn’t going to make anyone really any more secure.
Get out of the city. The country is safer. Isn’t that what everyone says? Well, that may or may not be the case. But David and I have been praying about the opportunity to live in the country for almost as long as we’ve been married and we’re still stuck in the city. God has answered many of our specific prayers with very specific yeses, but not that one. And I don’t think He is making us stay here because He doesn’t care about us any longer. So maybe the country seems safer, but safe is wherever God wants you to be. The bad guys roam the countryside, too. (Update 2020: We are out of the city now and I’m not going to lie. I’m profoundly thankful.)
Set aside six months or twelve months worth of income. Get out of debt. Blah blah blah. Yes, I know it is good advice. We lived that way, too. And you know what? You can be out of debt, have money in the bank, and try to live by biblical principles and still end up in serious financial straits. In this day and age, a job loss or medical expenses or unexpected large expenses can wipe you out in weeks, not months. Although it might help you sleep a little better at night knowing you don’t owe anyone any money and that you have a nest egg in the bank, take it from me. It’s really just an illusion of security.
The only security we can truly have as we head into whatever we are currently heading into (and, yes, I think this is a long way from over – and hope I’m wrong) is our faith in God. That’s all we have.
I’m thankful that David and I had already made the decision to live on less and that we’ve already gone through a period of protracted personal economic downturn. I’m glad I have those lessons under my belt. They were hard, but they do make me look at what is going on a bit differently.
You can do everything right and still end up in a mess. You can seek God with every big financial decision you make and still end up broke. You can be out of debt, have a boatload of cash stashed away, and still end up with nothing.
So while it is all fine and good to follow all the advice everyone is giving out right now, don’t miss the most important prep of all.
Strengthen your faith. Cast all your anxieties on Him. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith. Even though the current events can threaten to overwhelm us and cause us much stress and anxiety, they are nothing but a blip in history.
But the lessons of faith that we learn during these times will be with us throughout all eternity.