I just saw the official news that the U.S. has been in a recession since a year ago, however the Bush administration has avoided the word “recession” like the plague. But now that Bush is on the way out, the National Bureau of Economic Research has become emboldened, and is calling it what it is–and has been.
I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but reality is hitting hard here in the Northwest. Two of our friends–both the breadwinners of their families–have been laid off in the last two weeks. A third person, our realtor and good friend, who has been in the business for nearly 30 years, may lose her house if business doesn’t pick up. She is the main breadwinner as well, and since no one is buying houses right now, they have gone through all their savings over the past 14 months just trying to pay their bills. Meanwhile, the list of companies going under, and the thousands of employees being laid off, continues. We will see a lot more carnage before this is over. The only bright spot are the gas prices.
I understand what it’s like to have a husband who has been laid off. This time last year, my husband was laid off, and he didn’t find a job until the end of July. Our God was faithful, and my husband was given a marvelous severance package–which, incidentally–ran out just at the time my husband got a job. (God is so good.) Even though we were financially secure, it was a very, very hard time emotionally for my husband. Men who are out of work tend to think that everyone sees a big “L” for loser on their foreheads.
His former layoff and the current economic climate has been a wake-up call for our family. Where we thought we had tightened up all our finances, we’re finding other ways to pull in even tighter. We’re talking to our kids about the value of being careful with our money. And this is all good.
But there’s one area where we should not tighten up–charity, generosity and tithing. Now more than ever, our friends and neighbors will need our financial help. This is the time to “pay it forward.” If someone you know is out of work, get them a gift certificate from the local grocery store and leave it anonymously in their mailbox. Give to the local food bank, because if it’s anything like our local food bank, they are giving out way more than what is coming in.
We were in downtown Seattle on Friday to watch the Macy’s parade. After the parade, we saw a homeless man in a wheelchair dressed in a Santa outfit, with a bedraggled sign that read, “Santa Photos.” That sign touched my 10-year-old’s heart. I hate to admit it, but at the time, it seemed to me like a pathetic attempt to make some money. But what do a few dollars cost me? I wish we’d stopped, taken a picture, and given him some money.
Since then, my daughter has told me that she wants every homeless person to have a gift at Christmas. That’s going to be her request to Santa when she sits on his lap. We just might get some gifts–I have no idea what–and take them to downtown Seattle to the homeless. Maybe some gift cards from McDonald’s or Starbucks. Nothing like a hot latte when you’re sitting outside in our rainy climate all day.
What better gift to give to our Lord and Savior than a gift to the homeless? Or an anonymous gift card for our neighbor? Or a few bags of food for the food bank? Or even some time spent with someone who is out of work? My husband highly valued the talks with a male neighbor who would come and hang with him when he was down. If gifts for the homeless would make my daughter’s eyes shine, how much more joy would we give our Lord?
We need to dig deep and help others whenever we see need–not just during the holidays. This recession will go way beyond Christmas. No matter how deep we dig, God’s pockets are deeper. He will supply what we need. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed… (2 Cor. 9:8)