By Lewis J. Walker, CFP®
What does chaos and tragedy tell us about personal planning? How do we deal with the philosophical questions posed?
It’s an age old question: "Why does God permit the righteous to suffer and the wicked to flourish?" In writings dating from 605-597 B.C., the prophet Habakkuk complained, “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and clamorous discord.” (Habakkuk 1: 2-3).
Habakkuk’s lament was recorded at a time of Babylonian victories and King Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Judah and the capture of Jerusalem. One of the greatest Chaldean rulers, Nebuchadnezzar was ambitious, brutal, and powerful. The situation in Judah at the time was rife with political intrigue, wickedness among the leaders, and idolatry. Even worse, the conquering Chaldeans exhibited crass indifference to human suffering, gross immorality, and callous luxury midst mass suffering and oppression.
In a world of 24/7 instant messaging, chaos constantly is in our face. Memories of 9/11, Aleppo, terrorism, ISIS atrocities, the sadness of Haiti, the wrath of Hurricane Matthew. We ask the same question Habakkuk posed over twenty-six hundred years ago, “Why?” We know that suffering, cruelty, indifference, crassness are part of the human condition. Always was. And if we live long enough, we will witness all manner of difficulties, some of which will touch us. Whether it is a permanently injured soldier inside of a blown up Humvee in Afghanistan; a fatal motor wreck; serious illness or incapacity of self, a child, spouse or other loved one; shooting, drowning, or other mishap; tornado, hurricane, flood, fire....“Why?”
God answered Habakkuk’s question, assuring “the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live.” (Habakkuk 2:3-4). We live in an imperfect world. Perfection is to come in the promised eternal life we strive for.
We are instructed in the worthiness of stewardship, how to wisely use our gifts of talent, skill, knowledge, and treasure to take care of self, of those we love and care for, the poor and needy, the victims of tragedy, of those who depend on us in all facets of life—family, work, community, spiritual.
Consider. If we inhabited a perfect world with no vulnerabilities, there would be no need for compassion, courage, meaning, purpose. Great triumphs come from setbacks. Failure leads to new discoveries. Wisdom and maturity are the offspring of mistakes. It is only in confronting fear and uncertainty that we learn what we are capable of. We learn love, compassion, discipline. We develop character. Sometimes we have to step back and let those we love fail, knowing that at times that is the only way they will learn. We know too, that God gave us free will. Some will choose the high road and, sadly, some the low.
A tenant of financial life planning is accepting that tragedy, loss, and challenge will touch us all. Risk management, living and testamentary estate planning, sufficient capital to ride out storms, asset allocation and a personal investment policy statement, are part of the equation. Proper legal documents, insurance in all forms (life, health, disability, long term care, property and casualty, basic and umbrella liability), trust planning, beneficiary designations, are integral to “What if?” planning.
A goal of financial independence is assuring that you have choices when confronted with challenge. If we keep moving toward more government control of health care, don’t you want sufficient capital to access the best solutions irrespective of government interference? Why do people of means from other countries with socialized health care flock to top medical and wellness facilities in the U.S.?
In 612 B.C., shortly before the fall of Nineveh, the prophet Naham uttered a prophecy against the cruelty of the Assyrian’s who were the scourge of the ancient Near East for nearly three centuries. Mounds of heads, impaled bodies, enslaved citizens, avaricious looters. The more things change, the more they stay the same. God’s time is not our time. But he gave you an amazing brain, the power to envision the future as you learn from the past, skills and knowledge to create and access resources, the choice as to whether to build your house on rock or on sand. Ancient wisdom and faith still rule!
Lewis Walker is a financial planning and investment strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. The SFA does not give tax or legal advice.