What has been your reaction to the turmoil in the stock markets? Have you lost sleep over it? Are you checking the business news all the time? How do you handle the down times in your lives, when you get discouraged, and feel that you are less able to cope than you used to be? Most of the experts interviewed on television suggested that we should not panic but accept that there will be turbulence and corrections from time to time.
I have come to believe that there is a certain rhythm to life, as there are seasons in nature. Sometimes we need to slack off, take vacations or sabbaticals, be kind to ourselves, rest, sleep, and find renewal. Life isn’t always going to be increasingly productive. Energy isn’t always going to be available in abundant supply. Stocks are not always going to perform as we would like.
Philip Yancey, in his fine book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? writes:
“Everyone who keeps company with God goes through stages encompassing bright, joyful times as well as dark wintry times. Terry Muck draws an analogy from two contrasting outlooks, farmers and city dwellers. He quotes an old farmer who also works in a factory in town:
‘The biggest difference I can see is that city people always think that this year has got to be better than last year. If they don’t get a raise, acquire something new, or find themselves somehow better off, they think they’re failures. Farm folks look at things a bit differently. We know there are going to be good years and bad years. We can’t control the weather. We can’t prevent a bad crop. We can’t control sickness. So you learn just to work hard and make up your mind to take what comes.’ (Terry Muck, Liberating, p.175)
Since then, like a farmer I have known good years and bad years with prayer, seasons of contentment and gratitude and seasons of anguish and dereliction. I expected a straight-line vector of growth, something like the Wall Street charts of mutual funds that steadily gain in value every year. Instead, the line veers up and down erratically like that on a heart monitor. Only later, in retrospect, can I see that the darkest times solidified my faith and that somehow the words I wrote in those times God used to speak to others.” (p.196,197)
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5)
Take the long term point of view. More can be accomplished over a long time than you can ever imagine. Buy and hold is not a bad investment strategy. Neither is it a bad attitude to what we do in life with Christ.