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What does one do when the stock market keeps diving, gas prices keep rising, and all that experts can agree upon is that nobody knows when or how this economic free fall will end? Many are consumed by rumor, worry, stress and fear. Lost jobs, income and savings are a gloomy reality. Some of us are more OK than others, but everybody is affected.

In the midst of national financial distress, Prairie Baptist Church is talking about stewardship ”how we allocate the resources God has entrusted to us ”in preparation for financial commitment to the ministry of our church in 2009.

Is this a good time to be talking about financial commitment to the church? Of course! What better time to practice faithfulness, hope and grace than in the face of turbulence and distress.

The trouble is real and the future may be uncertain, but we are a people of faith, the body of Christ, and in and through us, God will prevail. So we will seek to grow in generosity and faith as our answer to the fear and greed that contaminate times like these. And those who are able may be called upon to care for those in need.

In the midst of Congress arguing over a solution to our economic crisis, I came across “The Peace of Wild Things,” a poem by Wendell Berry:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Or, in the words of Matthew 6:26-27: “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”

A practice you might try: What special place ”perhaps in nature, perhaps in your home or community ”enables you to “rest in the grace of the world?” If possible, spend some time there today. Or visualize it and rest in your memories.

If God is God, all will be well. Our lives exist in God’s life. There is never a time when we are out of God’s hands. Let us honor, thank and follow the creator of heaven and earth.

Heather Entrekin is senior pastor of Prairie Baptist Church in Prairie Village, Kan. A version of this column appeared previously in the church’s newsletter.

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