November 26, 2008

It's All Relative

2008 1533 page7 capERE IN THE UNITED STATES, WHERE I LIVE, ALMOST ALL THE economic news is bad. Not only is the financial situation in tatters, but the nation’s business influence around the world is sending shock waves through the financial markets of Europe and Asia.
Yes, the United States’ economy is as bad as it’s been in decades. Yes, there will be layoffs and many families will experience financial hardships. Yes, an improvement in the economy may take years.
But those of us who live in the United States, as well as in other industrialized countries of the world, still have much to be thankful for. We may have to tighten our belts; we may have to forego some of the luxuries we used to take for granted. But we still have a higher standard of living than most people in the world—by far.
And that’s why we cannot afford to panic. We cannot adopt a model of self-preservation that ignores the real needs of those around us.
As families struggle to keep their kids in Adventist schools, to pay their monthly utility bills, to keep nutritious food on the table, we have to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us to forego selfish indulgences and use our means to help others.
And let’s not forget our fellow believers who live in countries ruled by corrupt and violent regimes. You think you have problems: think again. The financial support we provide through our tithes and offerings makes available a steady stream of spiritual and material support to believers who don’t have the social safety net we have in this country.
Whatever material blessings you’re thankful for this season, remember, someone right now is getting by with less—much less.

Stephen Chavez is managing editor of the Adventist Review.