The world has more uncertainty today than we have seen in decades. Major news events are occurring nearly every day and sometimes every hour.
These events cause people to be anxious, fearful and concerned about the future. Many are worried about their careers, finances and geopolitical events, while wondering if the pandemic might someday return. Inflation and geopolitical events add to confusion about the future.
Last week's reports document a very strong economy. The monthly change in the Chicago Fed's National Activity index was nearly seven times last month's change. Annualized fourth quarter GDP grew at 7.0%, pushing total 2021 growth to 5.7%—the highest since 1984. Personal consumption expenditures grew 2.1% from the previous month, which was the highest in nearly a year. The economy's growth is primarily a function of post-pandemic consumer exuberance and trillions in additional fiscal and monetary stimulus.
A strong economy is usually good, but current inflation is hot and getting hotter. A strong economy complicates efforts to control inflation. Consumer inflation is 7.5% (the highest since February 1982) and producer inflation is 9.7% (the second highest in history). FHFA showed a 17.6% yearly increase in home prices whereas the S&P/Case-Shiller house price index increased 18.6%. The Fed has promised to start fighting inflation by beginning to raise interest rates and decreasing their nearly $9 trillion balance sheet starting in March. Both tools would decrease liquidity and slow the economy.
However, geopolitical events are adding another degree of uncertainty for the economy, inflation and Fed policies. After threatening for weeks, Russia invaded Ukraine. An invasion of primarily Russian-speaking areas quickly escalated to a full invasion of the country.
In response, Europe quickly increased their sanctions on Russia and the United States followed their lead. Europe and the United States have decided to increase the flow of weapons and supplies. Some argue that the conflict increases the likelihood that China would send its military into Taiwan. If they were to do so, the economy of the industrial world would likely enter a recession or worse.
Taiwan Semiconductor, for example, supplies more than 90% of the world's advanced computer chips (used in cars, airplanes, smart phones, computers, appliances, TVs, etc.).
These uncertain and turbulent times should encourage us to double down on our kingdom focus and efforts. Instead of focusing on the world's problems, we should concentrate on the Lord and His promises. We walk by faith instead of sight. A focus on the world will lead to confusion, depression and fear.
But the fruit of the kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy. As we move our focus from the world to the Lord, we are suddenly sleeping better, have more energy, are more optimistic, more productive and filled with expectation about the future because we are being led by Him.
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you," (Matt. 6:33, NASB).
"For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit," (Rom. 14:17).
To enjoy a better, more fruitful and productive life, these times demand a life of faith as we follow kingdom principles. To do less will allow the enemy to invade our God-granted territory. The times will tempt some to compromise, but don't allow it to happen to you. It is a time to rise, to be strong and courageous. Remember, we have not been given a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (2 Tim. 1:7).
The following kingdom principles, strategies and tactics should help to navigate these rough waters:
- Walk in love: We are commanded to be imitators of God, just as Christ so loved us (Eph. 5:1-2).
- Remember that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces (Eph. 6:12): Recognize that the ultimate battle is between light and darkness, good and evil.
- Study and meditate on the Word of God: The Word will light our feet and our path (Ps. 119:105). In other words, the word will keep us from stumbling and show us which path to take.
- Pray in faith (Matt. 21:22): Whatever is prayed in faith is powerful. Faith will also be credited as righteousness (Rom. 4:20-22).
- Remember the promises the Lord has made to you through His Word, personal revelation and tested prophets: Every promise will be accomplished (2 Cor. 1:20).
- Ask the Lord for the wisdom to navigate these times: If asked in faith, it will be given (James 1:5).
- Keep a kingdom focus: We have everything we need to have better, more fruitful and productive lives. All authority has been given to our King. Other people depend upon us accomplishing our purposes. Let us focus on the anchor of our souls.
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and reliable and one which enters within the veil," (Heb. 6:19).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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