The World Bank warned both large and small nations this week that they will not be able to avoid a global recession if the current economic forecast holds. The next global pandemic might just be a global recession.

The New York Times reported on the World Bank’s warning, citing, “The grinding war in Ukraine, ongoing supply chain chokeholds, Covid-related lockdowns in China and dizzying rises in energy and food prices are battering economies all along the income ladder, saddling them with slower growth and surging inflation.”

Citing the Global Economic Prospects report, the New York Times reported, “Global growth is expected to slow to 2.9 percent this year from 5.7 percent in 2021.” In addition, “Emerging nations will face the hardest setback, where the blows from the pandemic and the Ukraine war are still reverberating. The poorest nations will grow poorer.”

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed column, President Joe Biden wrote, “The global economy faces serious challenges. Inflation is elevated, exacerbated by Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. Energy markets are in turmoil. Supply chains that haven’t fully healed are causing shortages and price hikes.”

The president continued, “Americans are anxious. I know that feeling. I grew up in a family where it mattered when the price of gas or groceries rose. We felt it around the kitchen table. But the American people should have confidence that our economy faces these challenges from a position of strength.”

While the president’s words are appreciated, the fact remains people are starting to feel the pain of inflation and an economic downturn. After two years of COVID-19, lockdowns, political turmoil and U.S billionaires raising their wealth by 62% during the global health crisis, everyday people are beginning to tighten their belts.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once acknowledged, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

If the global community is to avoid – and/or recover from – a recession, then the key will be to stabilize main streets across the globe. While Wall Street will most certainly prosper from a recession (They always do.), it will be main streets around the world that carry the burden of economic turmoil.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke about when the “son of man” will come in all his glory. In his vision, Jesus very clearly delineated between sheep and goats.

Identifying the goats as the “righteous” in his futuristic story, Jesus revealed the true meaning of righteousness. It’s not about offering thoughts and prayers, belonging to the right church or voting for the right candidates in an election. No. For Jesus, righteousness is judged by how people loved their neighbor in their time of need.

He said, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you as a stranger and welcomed you or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.’”

As the world is seemingly headed toward a global recession, we need to keep these verses in our hearts and minds. We must not neglect our responsibility as Jesus-followers.

On a personal level, we need to care for one another, ensuring we tend to the needs of the most vulnerable. Loving and caring for our neighbors will ensure we weather this economic storm.

On a societal level, the U.S. president and Congress need to work together to pass bipartisan legislation that will provide critical relief to citizens and developing countries. Hopefully, the leaders in other nations will do likewise.

With the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, consumer spending should level off soon to combat inflation. However, higher prices across the board are hurting main street.

From fuel prices to a decision about student debt, our elected officials need to demonstrate common sense collaboration to help bolster the very people who make the economy what it is. Without immediate relief and long-term economic strategies, the gap between the world’s wealthy and everyone else will continue to widen.

As we cautiously celebrate coming out of the recent health crisis of COVID-19, we must be wary of another type of pandemic on the horizon.

While some were able to protect themselves against the coronavirus, there will not be a single person unaffected by a global recession. If we act now, we might be able to avoid a potential catastrophe, but we must come together to do so.

If our response to the coronavirus is any indication, then I am afraid we are heading straight into an economic pandemic.

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