A LOT OF PEOPLE these days feel they're victims of a sagging economy. And many have found themselves in pits of indebtedness they can't climb out of. But suppose they manage to negotiate with their primary creditors, who grant them a few extra months to set right their affairs. This may not resolve all the underlying concerns. But it gives people—or companies or nations—the space to begin doing so. The process is often called "buying time." It's been around for thousands of years.

Consider the story of Jonah in the Bible. God sends him to the people of Nineveh. They've wandered far from obedience to God's law. Catastrophe awaits them. The Bible suggests that if they hear Jonah's message and radically reform, the outcome will be good. Happily, they do truly hear. This buys them time—40 days, the Scriptures imply—in which to turn things around. They do. Catastrophe doesn't happen.

A loving God, a God of boundless grace, cares not only for Jonah but also for the people of Nineveh. And it is with great tenderness that God provides them an opportunity to repent, and to be renewed. He gives them space to mend their ways and do better. Jonah isn't entirely pleased with this. But he, too, is given space to shift his view from critical to compassionate.

This is the end of the issue. Ready to explore further?
November 23, 2009

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