Deja-Vu - By Jerry Black

Jennifer Hester |

So, it would seem that taking a long vacation should not occur again. Let me share why. In late 2008 Camille and I took a long vacation to visit Israel with friends from church. On one of the days there the US stock market had one of its largest drops in history and continued to decline in stages for the next few months. On the very day the markets dropped precipitously I was sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee listening to a devotion on Matthew 14 being taught by my friend Dr. John Musselman. If you’re familiar with that scripture Peter had been called to step out of the boat. As he did, he walked on water. We don’t know exactly for how long, but the winds began to blow to the point Peter took his eyes off Jesus and in so doing, he began to sink. It wasn’t until an hour or so later that I began to understand the significance to me. I too had taken my eyes off what was most important and was focusing on the impact of the winds of change occurring states side.

Deja-Vu. Here we are again, ten or so years later. This time Camille and I find ourselves in Hawaii on what is supposed to be a celebration of our 35th anniversary. We had attempted to go 5 years ago on our 30th but it just didn’t work. Once again – boom – the markets take serious hits. Once again, the winds of change are blowing. A virus has spread to the point governments are shutting down businesses and quarantining people to stay home. Our hotel in our last location shut down all but basic room services. We couldn’t even get a meal on the property. It didn’t take long for my mind to once again reflect on that day we sat on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This time however we could feel the winds blowing off the Pacific as we saw large waves from the ocean crashing against the shores on the Island of Kauai. On that day I sat for six hours contemplating all that was going on. What was I to do? Change plans and go home early? No, at least not right then. I knew that we had had discussions at the office as far back as last fall about what would be done should the next market upheaval occur. The team was ready!!! I also know and believe the following:

I’ve seen this four times before in 30 years as a financial counselor and six times since 1973, including the tremendous inflationary times of the 80’s when interest rates soared into the high teens. I remember buying my first rental property in 1980, a VA foreclosure, with a 30 year fixed rate of 12%. Friends, that was a deal then. Yes, once again this time it’s different. A different cause. The effects will be the same. And, like 2001, this would be a non-financial existential threat with financial implications. And, in time the results will be the same. We will recover. Exactly when, over how long, and to what degree, only time will tell. Once again this will be a time to make sure we are focused on the rights things.

As I have thought about this since our return (Yes, we did decide to come home about four days early for a variety of reasons) I have reflected at length on the words “under the sun” in Ecclesiastes. This because we all have probably heard the idiom “there is nothing new under the sun.” This may well be said for what is going on today. I find it interesting that many of modern-day man’s axioms, idioms or sayings actually are derivatives of something said in scripture. But these modern axioms, idioms or sayings have changed the meaning. Studying a few commentaries and attempting to do a bit of exegetical interpretation here’s what I’ve discovered. On the one hand, there is nothing new under the sun and there certainly isn’t anything that is a surprise to God. From the beginning of time, He has known what has happened and is to come. The key is how we deal with what happens. God is always in and under control. We are not, yet we can control certain things, especially how we respond to what happens. Over 25 times the Teacher in Ecclesiastes uses “under the sun” to make a point. Only once, in 2 Samuel 12:12 do the words “under the sun” appear outside of Ecclesiastes. I am particularly captured by Ecclesiastes 1:14 – “ I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after the wind.” Yet, we can see the effects of the wind and become fearful. So what’s the point? Ravi Zacharias in his work “What is Worthwhile Under the Sun?” gave me insights not seen before. Those things we pursue, on earth, under the sun, are worthless without God. Accordingly, I will ask you to strive, as I will do, to pursue the things of this earth, with purpose, under the sun, a life with God!! Let’s take our eyes off the noises of this world and keep focused on the things that matter and the things we can control.

My guess is in another 7-10 years it will be again – Deja-Vu – Nothing new under the sun. We’re here to help. Give us a call. You may have friends who are struggling with what’s going on. Perhaps we can help them with their financial and life decisions. Your introduction is a start.

Be safe, Be Wise, Be Prudent!