It may seem like the last one never ended, but technically the recession that began on December 2007 ended in June 2009. Since then, we have had over five years of economic expansion.

The average recession since 1854, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, lasts 17.5 months and the average expansion lasts 38.7 months or just over three years.

I’m not an economist — I’m a financial planner (big difference). And, I’m not predicting a recession. Some say this is a long expansion and another recession is near. Others are saying, the recent Great Recession followed by slow growth has left enough slack in the economy to allow for continued increase. The truth is we don’t know for sure.

But, here’s what we do know: Another recession will come, and we don’t know when. We don’t know how long it will last or its depth. We don’t know what will take the major hit (employment, housing, stock market, etc.) We shouldn’t be surprised; we should be prepared. God’s Word outlines how to do just that.

Be generous and ready to serve:

God’s economy works differently. He says the last will be first and the humble are exalted. Proverbs 11:25 reflects this: “The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”

Get your financial house in order:

I’m guessing most of you reading this are not shepherds or ranchers, yet I’ll trust you’ll see the application of Proverbs 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.” Faithfulness, hard work, sacrifice, knowledge, and focus are all required as stewards of God’s provision.

Be obedient to God’s ways:

God’s incredible grace gives us freedom from rules, which should invoke two responses: 1) Because God is so good, and I’m so thankful, I want to obey that which pleases Him. 2) God knows the ways that bring blessing and joy, so I should follow those ways if I want those outcomes. Proverbs 3:5–6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Pass the test:

God is so much more concerned with our growth toward holiness than our happiness. For that we should be thankful. Too often happiness masks our weaknesses and insecurities. But thankfully, God works in us for the long-term good. Deuteronomy 8:16 explains how He worked among the Hebrews, “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.” As we endure the test, we can still have peace, joy and contentment.

Learn contentment:

The Apostle Paul famously said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). In context, Paul is speaking of his ability to rise above his personal circumstances with an attitude of contentment. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (4:11). Contentment steadies the roller coaster ride of economic cycles — that are out of your control — and reinforces the understanding that God is taking care of you.

Have confidence in God’s provision:

Trusting God’s promises, and therefore resting comfortably in them, requires you to believe that what He says is true and is for you. Ask yourself if you believe those things. Jesus makes an incredible promise in Matthew 6 to take care of your needs if you are seeking a relationship with Him and His purposes. “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (v31, 33) He has taken the anxiety out of daily life and allowed you the freedom to focus on Him.

Prepare now for the next recession by choosing God’s solutions for prosperity…