With every new day, it seems Oklahomans are faced with another announcement of difficult news. While Oklahoma has made progress in diversifying the economy, clearly the strength (and weakness) remains tied to the oil and gas industry. With the dramatic drop in oil and gas prices, Oklahoma’s economy is in the tank.
As I travel across our state, I see fewer rigs on the skyline and more rigs stacked in yards—the exact opposite of a couple of years ago. Numerous Oklahomans are now facing layoffs from high paying jobs, and many oil and gas-related businesses are struggling to survive.
While the impact on state coffers has been just as dramatic as the drop in oil prices, church offerings plates have been affected by a slower, but real, decline. I have said over and over again that Oklahoma Baptists are the most generous people on earth. Oklahoma Baptists keep giving, even during difficult days.
Yet, Oklahoma Baptist churches are beginning to feel the pinch as our people face tough times. These economic events cause a chain reaction: from individuals to churches, from churches to the Convention and from the Convention to mission causes across the state and around the world.
During these difficult days, Christians must lean on the Lord and one another. We must be the body of Christ that serves one another and helps fellow church members who are in need. Praying and caring for one another in the tough times builds relationships that will last for a lifetime. We must be ever on the alert to the needs of fellow church members caught in the web of a downturn.
All of us, from the local church to the convention, must tighten our belts without failing to give from shallower pockets. During these times, we learn to lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus. In tough situations, we relearn Who is the source for all of life and all our needs. Difficult times expand and stretch our faith.
Let’s admit that in good times, we find ourselves living by sight and not by faith—the opposite of God’s requirement. The life of a Christian is a life of faith, and it is during the tough times that our faith takes on a real ring rather than the thin tinkle of a cymbal.
I assure you that in times like these, the sure word from the Lord becomes more than a verse once read or memorized. In these days, the words of Psalm 46 become alive, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear . . .” When everything about us gives way, we can stand on His unwavering truth. We are not alone; He is ever present with us. He will be a strong tower into which we can run.
Andre Crouch said it so well in his lyric, “Through it all” (oil and gas prices up/oil and gas prices down) “I’ve learned to trust in Jesus. I’ve learned to trust in God!” Have I? Have you?