I’ve written a couple of posts on the economy since it started its slide south back in the fall. The emotions in watching this downturn have moved from interesting to perplexing, and if it keeps falling, the prevailing emotions could inch nearer to frightening.

For now, the word perplexing accurately describes my vantage point. It’s not as if we are unaffected. My husband is working harder than he ever has, putting in 50-hour weeks trying to find ways to cut expenses and increase revenue. I just talked to one of our sons who said they are living hand-to-mouth, barely making ends meet. And I know it’s true. Their pantry was bare when we visited last month. Another son and our son-in-law are both doing the same, working harder than ever trying to keep their families fed and their payments made. These are not business-as-usual days. What our country is experiencing clearly isn’t a brief downturn where things will return to normal in a few months.

Added to our national situation is the complicating factor of this being a global issue which leads to the question, What is God up to in these international complexities? While I do not have the answers, I think it’s good and healthy that we ask this. We who claim to belong to God must be measuring our experience against the truth. We know that God is not passive. He is not sitting idly by just watching. That is not His character. Instead, God is intricately and intimately involved in the rise and fall of nations and in the comings and goings of all people.

Yesterday in my Bible study class I heard a verse that I do not think I’ve ever heard before. It was as if it had flashing lights around it dramatically grabbing my attention. This one short phrase fits this season of our American life perfectly.

“And He shall be the stability of your times” (Isaiah 33:6).

That’s the bottom line. No matter what God is up to in the world today, no matter what course the current economic crisis takes, no matter what the political leaders in Washington do, God is the stability of our times.

It reminds me of the first line of the old hymn, “The Solid Rock”: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Our hope cannot be in money, a job, our house, our friends or family, and certainly our hope cannot be in Washington. All of those will disappoint. Our hope must be in Christ alone, for only there will we find true stability.

I remain perplexed at our current state. And at the same time I am cautiously optimistic and even hesitantly excited at what God might be doing. Could this be part of the end times? It’s possible. Will our businesses and families be better for this pruning and winnowing God is working? If we cooperate with Him in this, there is no question we will be better having been pruned. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that he was “perplexed but not despairing.” I have found great comfort in recent seasons of suffering in that short phrase, knowing it is okay to be perplexed, confused, baffled, and even mystified at the circumstances of my life. I can be perplexed and still be found having faith. It’s when I move to despair which means hopelessness that I am not living in faith. We cannot know what tomorrow will bring, but we know the One who will bring it, and that alone can keep us from despair as He brings the stability to our times.