I made some interesting observations of analogies between faith and economy. Of which we can learn – this time, not for economy, but for faith.
The boom and bust cycle of economy is based on mass psychology. The boom happens when everybody (for whatever reason) hope that the economy will improve, and subsequently invest and consume, which in turn makes their hope be fulfilled as a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other side, the bust happens because of pessimistic expectations of the future, for whatever reason, well-founded or unfounded.
The interesting thing is when and why the boom tips over to become the bust, and vice versa. In my opinion, the transition from boom to bust happens when any substantial group that takes part in the economy has “hoped too much”. Now when they finally notice that their expectations have been unrealistic (and they probably lost much money that they invested into companies and ideas now not rewarded by the economic situation), they lose all hope. This is unreasonable, but understandable, as human beings are in practice not really guided by reason and logic. What is further unreasonable is that their lost hope spread to the other members of the economy like an epidemia, and the now prevalent expectation that the economy will get worse will let just that happen.
Now, isn’t it just the same in faith? Christians definitely have reasons to hope. But they also can start hoping for things that God did never promise to us. Like that all the sick will be healed during this time on planet Earth. Now when people see good things happen in God’s kingdom, like being part of a great church or having a great time with God, or seeing prayers answered in a row: then people might, inspired by this, start hoping for even better things. That were not promised though. So they inevitably get disillusioned (and the longer they maintained their false hope before that, by all cunny means of self-delusion and psychology, the harder the disillusioning will be). And like in the economy, these people will lose all hope. They fall in a depression, in the worst case even in a Great Depression. This affects their relationship to God, but even worse, it affects their Christian brothers and sisters, which might now also lose hope. That would not matter much if it would be just disillusioning as well, but the problem is, people tend to lose also a part of their justified hope in God, and it might also affect people who did not harbor false hopes. As, they might become desparate about the bad conditions in the Church, where it is possible that people do harbor false hopes and go uncorrected for long times until finally falling into despair.
The good news is, the bust is not the end. In economy, people finally get to their senses and say: we need to move on with life. Let’s use our last pennies and buy some food. And as everybody moves out and again buys the essentials for life for their last pennies, the demand is back on the market, and the economy starts to improve. And then, when people realize this, they can regain some hope, and the boom is back. (Hopefully they don’t get too much of that hope, to avoid the next bust; but that hope has never come true yet … .)
Likewise in faith: when you’re depressed, on the ground, lost your hope on God, you will finally get to your senses and think: Wait, at least the basics are true: Jesus is my saviour, and that’s great. Then you might pray, experience some answered prayers again, again visit your church.
And there, you might even infect others with your new-gained young hope. And this – everybody regaining hope in God – is called: revival.