Historical graph of the Dow Jones over the past century
Public Domain photo from Wikimedia Commons

Life is a bit like the stock market, isn’t it?

The markets experience exuberant high points, crushing lows, and times when things just seem to meander sideways. So it is with our lives.

But there’s a trick to keeping your perspective:

Step back.

If you stand very close to a line chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in a time of financial maelstrom, all you’ll see are the violent downward swings. The chart plunges in gut-churning fashion during times like the Great Depression, Black Monday, 9/11, the global financial crisis and the present coronavirus threat. If you’re focussing only on the close-up view of the roiling markets, you’re bound to panic.

But try taking a few steps back.

Now, the line chart looks quite different. Those frightening seasons are no longer quite as noticeable when your view takes in a span of many decades. Instead, all you see is a steady upward trend in the line.

They say that during times of turmoil in the stock markets, the “smart money” doesn’t panic, but rather thinks long term. Perhaps this is a lesson we can apply to times of turbulence in our own lives?

We tend to focus on the short-term problems in front of us, and panic like it’s the end of the world. And Jesus did tell believers that they would have trouble in this life: it’s almost guaranteed. But Scripture refers to our trials as momentary or temporary:

”So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.” (1 Peter 1:6 NLT)

Why does Scripture refer to our troubles as lasting only “a little while,” when some people’s problems endure for years? That doesn’t seem momentary, does it?

If we take the long view, then, yes, these troubling times often turn out to be blips in the context of several decades or a lifespan.

Photo by Giovanni Maciel on Pexels

But Scripture is taking an even longer view, that of eternity. It’s only when you step even farther back and take the eternal view that our present difficulties will fade in significance.

When we get to Heaven, any suffering endured here on earth for the gospel’s sake will seem puny and short-lived compared to our future glory.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT)

No matter what your present troubles and fears, try not to focus close-up on the upsetting downward swings of your circumstances. Try taking several giant steps back, and the picture will look different.

If you’re a believer in Jesus, looking at the long-term “line chart” of your life will show a steady upward trend as you become more Christ-like and get closer and closer to your final destination, Heaven. There is truly wonderful joy ahead for us!

Smart believers, like “smart money,” don’t panic.

They think long term.

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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