The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its final of three estimates for first quarter GDP.
Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.0 percent, compared to 2.2 percent previously and expected. Not adjusted for inflation, GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.2 percent. The Atlanta Fed is predicting real GDP growth of 3.8 percent for the second quarter, whereas the New York Fed is predicting 2.87 percent.
Consumption (personal consumption expenditures) increased at an annual rate of 0.9 percent, compared to the 1.0 percent forecasted and the previous estimate. Core consumption, which excludes the more volatile food and energy sectors, increased at an annual rate of 2.3 percent — in line with the prior estimate and expectations. Inflation, as measured by the GDP price index, increased 0.3 percent to an annual rate of 2.2 percent.
The economy is booming, but there are clouds that could slow growth. Trade tensions from tariffs have been at the forefront, but the recent threat to bar Chinese investment in tech companies is gaining increasing importance. On the domestic front, political discord is rising. The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the supreme court, demonstrations regarding border and immigration policy, and vitriolic attacks by the press and politicians are increasing. Policy stalemates appear increasingly likely.
In this world, believers will have trouble. The trouble can be real or imagined. Nearly all news sources widely publicize the bad news, and give scant attention, if any at all, to the good things happening. If our input is almost exclusively from natural news, we can have a flawed perspective. This flawed perspective can create hopelessness, sadness, depression, and anxiety.
Believers can also have personal challenges. These challenges can be physical, emotional, financial, relational, social, and/or spiritual. Obstacles can directly impact the individual, families, or loved ones. Everyone in the world will have tribulation, but believers are designed to overcome with the entire backing of heaven behind them.
"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world," John 16:33, NASB.
Having accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we now have a King in heaven. King Jesus created the world, which He overcame. He loved us enough to overcome death and sin, that we may overcome. Perhaps when we are tried, we should change our perspective and look to Jesus.
When we change our perspective from the trial we are facing to Jesus, we change our perspective from the problem to the solution. As an all-powerful God, Who loves us infinitely, Jesus is the solution to anything we may face. Faith moves God and Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. As we look to Jesus, our relationship grows, our confidence increases, and we realize that Jesus and His word are 100 percent reliable. We should look to Jesus.
"Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2.
"Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16.
Looking up requires discipline. Our flesh will almost demand that we give full attention to our problems. Good stewardship demands that we don't ignore challenges, but we should also seek divine wisdom, guidance, grace, and power to overcome. Specifically, we should look to Jesus. The lyrics of Samuel Lane's worship song of the same name encapsulates this message.
"Open your eyes to the Son of God
You'll see the light if you just, just look up
Look to Jesus
Lift your head and take his hand
You're in the prayers of the risen man
Look to Jesus
No He won't let you go, No He won't let you down
No He won't give you up, For He loves you now
Oh look to Jesus, oh look to Jesus"
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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