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Got Money Woes? Consider Zimbabwe

By Rusty Wright, Founder of Rusty Wright Communications
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The economy got you down? Worried about making your mortgage payment, getting a car loan, affording gas, or paying college tuition?

News is filled with Wall Street turmoil, bank failures, home foreclosures, and a clogged financial system. Bailout, rescue, layoffs, cutbacks, bad debt, tight credit, more gloom. Help!

Are you driving less, clipping more coupons, eating out less? Some employers arrange four-day workweeks to save employee commuting costs. Our grocer holds Five-Dollar Fridays offering family meal specials.

Maybe you feel like the wag who quipped, "My friends told me to 'Cheer up. Things could be worse!' So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse."

Sometimes in troubling times, a bit of perspective helps.

Some Perspective

Suppose you lived in Zimbabwe, a southern African nation gripped by an astounding 40 million percent inflation. The New York Times reports that citizens needing Zimbabwean dollars stand in bank lines in hopes of withdrawing the maximum currency amount allowable, equivalent to about a US dollar or two. It took one woman a day in a bank line to withdraw cash to buy a bar of soap, four days for a bag of cornmeal.

The government recently reissued new currency, trimming ten zeros off the amounts. (Calculators work better that way.) Without the fix, one US dollar would now buy about 10 trillion Zimbabwean dollars.

Zimbabwe, of course, has been scarred by political mayhem. Power-sharing between founding president Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai aimed to bring sanity to a nation wracked by election violence. Subsequent deadlock over which side would control the Finance Ministry did not help the economy.

Teachers, nurses, and janitors by the thousands stay off the job because their salaries no longer cover their bus fares to work. Decaying paupers' bodies stack up in a mortuary; government neglects their burial. Most Zimbabweans face hardship most westerners will never know.

Feel better? I didn't think so. You still face your own challenges.

Resources for Troubling Times

Global economic indicators spread gloom. In the US, the Dow declined by one third in a year. Your stock portfolio, retirement accounts, college savings - perhaps your life savings - may be dwindling before your eyes, almost as if a thief were stealing from them.

It takes wisdom, strength, and patience to deal with such turmoil. Where do you get those resources?

Life's troubles can confront us with our own inadequacies and prompt us to look beyond ourselves. Family and friends may be supportive, but the financial mess affects nearly everyone. Is there a need for aid beyond the material and the human?

Maybe looking up could help. Jesus of Nazareth, an astute and practical thinker, offered valuable perspective on cultivating wisdom, strength, and patience. He encouraged people to assess and re-evaluate what they treasured:

"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."

Of course, we shouldn't neglect physical realities. Food, clothing and shelter are necessities requiring our attention. But a relationship with God can provide wisdom, strength and peace for navigating life's storms.

Will western economies descend into Zimbabwean collapse? Probably not. Will they rebound? Perhaps. Should individuals re-evaluate what really matters in life? Hmmm.

So, where's your treasure these days?

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

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