Commentary

Fight anxiety with appreciation

Unemployment rising, economy tanking. The billfold’s health has a nasty way
of infecting the soul’s well-being. The sinful human nature is prone to focus
more on the prognostications of economists than on the promises of the
Eternal One. And the result is to be locked in a mindset of scarcity. That is
sin. We worship a generous and faithful God, who emphasizes his generosity
through an abundance of blessings in his Son. If he did not spare his own
son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also along with him graciously
give us all things? Isn’t that why Pastor Paul can write, “Rejoice in the Lord
always … Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. At this time and
always, the Spirit helps us face anxiety with appreciation of God’s goodness.”

True it is that congregations are considering how to be good stewards in the
current situation. So also is your College of Ministry. We are examining
position vacancies and trying to determine which could be delayed. We are
postponing some projects and remodeling. We are searching for temporary
budget reductions that will not harm our mission to provide excellence in
ministerial training.

But the real issue isn’t about resources, it is about the Lord’s love, because
the Lord disciplines those he loves. So what blessings can this loving
discipline from God achieve?

* If the headlines force God’s people to their knees to pray the Fourth Petition
fervently, is that not a blessing?

* If all illusionary props of self-reliance are pulled out from under us and we
collapse solely on the promises of a gracious God to hold us up, is that not a
blessing?

* If the current economy moves God’s people to pray for their synod with a
clear focus on our mission, is that not a blessing?

* If Christians re-examine their personal use of time and talent and re-
evaluate their priorities as lights of the world who reflect Jesus, the Light of
the world, is that not a blessing?

Is it not a blessing for our students to see the college demonstrate careful
stewardship? These future pastors and teachers will serve in churches and
schools that will always face financial issues and economic uncertainty. It is
imperative that our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) College of
Ministry model a clear conviction that we live by faith and not by sight even
as we examine practical ways to enhance ministry.

As strange as it seems, God’s kingdom often advances more rapidly in times
of need and crisis than in times of peace and prosperity. The Spirit touches
worried human hearts with the Word, leading them to appreciate the
unchanging promises of God. So, brothers and sisters, fight anxiety with
appreciation for all we have in Christ.

Mark Zarling is the president of Martin Luther College (MLC), a Wisconsin
Evangelical Lutheran Synod college in New Ulm, Minnesota. This article is
reprinted from MLC’s In Focus magazine.