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He will come to our rescue
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Among all the good reasons for writing a faith-based article, my favorite is thanking God for blessings received.  The letter of gratitude also becomes a public testimony and an encouragement to those who struggle in life.

As the Psalmist wrote, “I love the Lord, for he has heard the cry of my appeal; for he turned his ear to me in the day when I called him.” (116:1).

We should love the Lord at all times, whether or not he answers all our prayers.  Still, when he does come to the rescue, we feel a deep sense of appreciation, and naturally want to tell the world:  “…I called on the Lord’s name:  ‘O Lord my God, deliver me!’  How gracious is the Lord, and just.  Our God has compassion…the Lord has been good; he has kept my soul from death…How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?”

The psalmist answers his own question: “My vows to the Lord I will fulfill before all his people.” (Ps. 116:14 & 18; for the rest see 116: 2, 4-6, 8-9).

The thank-you letter you’re just beginning is a public testimony to how the Lord has been helping me with a complicated financial problem.  As he does with all the down-to-earth problems we face, our Lord gets involved in the solution, making impossible things happen, if we just invite him in.

Since childhood, I was taught to save some of my allowance and to put my money to good use.  In Sunday school, we learned that our resources and talents should not be buried, but rather invested in something of value.

In 1979, I began investing in a fast-growing company which allows clients to purchase precious metals as a long-term store of value.  They offer the option of depositing these commodities for you, and charge a monthly fee.

Before flying north to work in a small Alaskan gold mine, I sold off all my positions for a good profit.  Those were the days of old, when cell phones were only a dream, and I feared the metals market would head south long before the mining season finished, and we workers would do the same.

Once established as a priest in the Diocese of Stockton, I decided to make some conservative investments with the same corporation.  My aim was to supplement our modest retirement plan with secure, long-term portfolio.

I sincerely doubted whether they really kept the valuables with them in some highly guarded vault, like Fort Knox.  But since they have a legal obligation to produce the goods when claimed, I knew they’d have some back-up strategy.    The biblical warning not to “lay up treasures” for myself on earth kept me from planning anything else than a long-range safety net.

Later, though, my representative introduced me to techniques which would increase the value of my holdings substantially.  At that point, I was moving to a new parish with a large debt and no place for its priest to live.

So it seemed reasonable to plan my investments either to pay down that debt or even to purchase a small home which could serve as the rectory.  

Years later, when the metals market was soaring and that corporation was looking to advance its holdings, my representative called me with urgency in his voice.  “Look, I need you to take advantage of a short-term deal.”

I won’t go into details, except to state that it was September 11th, 2007, I was busy starting the day, he’d called my cellular phone and I didn’t feel that his proposal was right.  However, he insisted, saying “Trust me on this one.” Having enjoyed a very cordial relationship with him for nearly seven years, with consistently positive outcomes, I finally accepted his advice.

There was a knot in my stomach.  It grew tighter when he called me the next day, admitting “I forgot to read you a statement.”  If you listen to those interminable warnings during commercials for medicines on television, you’ll get a hint of how his declaration sounded.  “If you had read that to me yesterday,” I retorted, “I would never have allowed the transaction.”

That was just the beginning of the worst financial experience of my life.

Many of you are recalling, even now, a similar nightmare you walked into the day you signed for an adjustable rate mortgage, a re-financing scheme, a top-heavy payment plan for your new automobile, or any other form of well-intentioned investment being managed by someone who was not.

Waking up at 5 a.m. in a cold sweat, making countless useless phone calls, consulting people who tell you how many others have the same problem or, worse still, ask you why you were so misinformed as to have signed, then caught between taking huge losses or slaving to pay off a debt that you never should have assumed, too many of us have walked this valley.

In my case, all I received from the company were recommendations that would further damage my holdings, phrases like “win some, lose some,” or even an insulting phone call blaming me for the demise of my portfolio.

Eventually, as my exposure to liabilities grew unbearable, I consulted a few lawyers.  Without exception, they replied that I had a very weak case.

So I took it all to prayer.  A full year after my 9-11 disaster, one lawyer put me in touch with another, and he accepted my case pro-bono.  That is, he would work with me free of charge, until such a time as the case would resolve.  I was pleased with his attitude, with his expertise, and with the percentage he would ask.  Remarkably, he lived only fifteen minutes’ drive from the corporation’s headquarters, and had previously represented some ex-employees who were disgruntled with the company’s unfair practices.

From the moment I spoke with him by phone, I recovered the capacity to sleep well, and I felt a peace in my heart that convinced me God had sent this lawyer not only to rescue me, but to defend many others who had been suffering similar financial injustices from this, and related, corporations.

I’ll continue this story tomorrow, but for the time being just want to thank God for sending us an Advocate when we were in greatest need.  Everyone who joins us on our road to Calvary, helping us bear the burden of our crosses, encouraging us in moments of despair, and picking us up when we fall, does so in the image of the One who came to our rescue.  Sunday, as I continue this testimony, I invite you all to remember your stories, too.