Yesterday was tough. I've had many tough days throughout this time of trial and testing, and yesterday ranks right up there with some of the toughest. It would have been nice yesterday for Arch Coal to report that they were on the verge of a deal with creditors that would involve staying out of bankruptcy. That's not what happened. Instead, they used language in their SEC filing that makes it sound as though a bankruptcy filing could come at any moment. They even note something that really goes without saying in most cases anyway, which is that their equity will likely be worthless if they take that step:
"We have concluded that we need to restructure our balance sheet to continue as a going concern over the long term, but can provide no assurances of the terms thereof or how it will impact our securityholders.
As a result of extremely challenging current market conditions, Arch believes it will require a significant restructuring of its balance sheet in order to continue as a going concern in the long term. We are currently in active dialogue with various creditors with respect to a restructuring of our balance sheet. There can be no assurance that these efforts will result in any such agreement. If an agreement is reached and we pursue a restructuring, it may be necessary for us to file a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in order to implement this agreement through the confirmation and consummation of a plan of reorganization approved by the bankruptcy court in the bankruptcy proceedings. We may also conclude that it is necessary to initiate Chapter 11 proceedings to implement a restructuring of our obligations even if we are unable to reach an agreement with our creditors and other relevant parties regarding the terms of such a restructuring. In either case, such a proceeding could be commenced in the near term. If a plan of reorganization is implemented in a bankruptcy proceeding, it is likely that holders of claims and interests with respect to, or rights to acquire our equity securities, would likely be entitled to little or no recovery, and those claims and interests would likely be canceled for little or no consideration. If that were to occur, we anticipate that all, or substantially all, of the value of all investments in our common stock will be lost and that our equity holders would lose all or substantially all of their investment. It is also likely that our other stakeholders, including our secured and unsecured creditors, will receive substantially less than the amount of their claims."
Everyone is running with the story. In fact, I just noticed that Reuters has run a story which claims that "sources with knowledge of the restructuring talks said" that "the likelihood of an out-of-court agreement was remote."
Anyway, seeing all of that yesterday was tough in light of how I believe God has led me. After everything I've gone through in this time of trial and testing, why does there have to be more pain? Things seemed to pile on as the day progressed. I did my best to cry out to the Lord throughout the day. I did my best to remember his many promises, who he is, who I am in relation to him, and so on. He strengthened me each time. Still, by the end of the business day, things just kept getting tougher.
Leapfrog (LF) continues to report terrible results. The situation there continues to look worse and worse. They are slashing jobs in a desperate attempt to get expenses and cash burn under control. They are even using desperate language now regarding their own survival:
"The Board of Directors and the management team continue to explore all financial, strategic and structural alternatives available to the Company."
That's terrible language coming from a company with no long-term debt. LF is now a small position, but it didn't start out that way. I think there is still some emotion that comes up in regard to that stock and the company's results for me, in light of what I am doing here (i.e. applying my faith to my investing). It is not doing well, and was down a further 24% or so in after-hours trading.
McDermott International (MDR) on the other hand, reported great results yesterday and was up as much as 16% in after-hours trading. Too bad for me (or so it seems right now according to eyes of flesh), that I sold it just last week in an attempt to lean not on my own understanding. It's tough to see that. I'm happy for their shareholders. I'm just saying that it's tough for me because I "missed out" on being able to celebrate along with them. I expect that stock to continue to do well for the foreseeable future. But again, it doesn't look like I'll be taking part in that.
It didn't stop there. Oil prices keep falling. Saudi Arabia apparently said the pain was just fine by them... nothing to do but stay the course. Things seem to look worse than ever for offshore drillers. NADL had a board member resign due to some kind of scandal. Gulfmark Offshore reported an earnings miss. There seemed to be so much "bad news" and negative sentiment yesterday that I couldn't even keep track of all of it.
For me, exiting the pain (e.g. by selling out of these positions and trying a new strategy) is not an option. God has told me repeatedly to stay the course. So, what else can I do? Like I said, I called upon the Lord much yesterday and he strengthened me at times. Nonetheless, I was still struggling when I ate dinner with my family. They continued to pray for me. We did our devotion, and I fell asleep on the couch, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I woke up about 11:30 PM. It is 12:40 AM as I type this. The reason I'm writing in the middle of the night, is that something happened. It's the same thing that happened in August of 2014, after I had first began to take a lot of risk, including my first trade into coal stocks.
When I woke up a little while ago, I felt pain. I felt a very heavy burden. I felt as though I was weighed down by chains that were too heavy to move. I cried out to Jesus again. I've always been told that God loves it when we remind him of his promises. So, I often do that in prayer. I also "put him in remembrance" of the things that I believe he has told me personally. Earlier, I said to him something like, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. God, this doesn't feel like peace. Help me to keep my mind fixed on you. Rescue me Jesus. I feel like I've stepped out of the boat. I'm coming where you are, but I feel like I'm drowning. Please tell me to come to you! Please rescue me Lord! Grab me by my right hand and lead me through this!"
I don't know exactly what all I said after that or even exactly when he showed up. I just realized all of a sudden that his peace was overwhelming me. I know that sounds strange to say that peace was "overwhelming", but that's what it is... meaning, that his peace all of a sudden overwhelmed everything else I was thinking or feeling. All of a sudden, I realized that Jesus Christ is with me. I can't fully describe what that means to me right now. But I can try. The God of the universe, the one who created everything in existence, the one who loved me enough to come and die in my place, the one who has engraved me on the palms of his hands (by the way, and I mean this respectfully but factually: I don't understand how anyone can read the Book of Isaiah, especially Isaiah 53, and then not believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah that God promised to the Jewish people - it makes me sad that anyone could miss something so very beautiful and so extremely important!) - Yes, that Holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, miracle working, loving, forgiving, merciful, creator and provider and protector... HE IS WITH ME!
I'm not sure what else I can say. There are no words to describe what is happening to me right at this moment. In the midst of what should be one of the most painful episodes in my life, I feel like I could float away... like I'm walking on air. I say "I feel like" because those are the only words I have to describe it. But God's peace is more than just a feeling. It's something that permeates every part of your being. It's an actual event that is taking place. It's a sign that almighty God is at work inside of us. God is thinking good thoughts toward me... thoughts of peace! His thoughts are creative. He is creating something inside of us during these times. Like I said, it overwhelms everything else. It overwhelms every thought, every feeling, every desire... It is something that is truly indescribable!
In the end, it does not matter what happens with any of these stocks. It doesn't matter what announcements these companies make, or don't make. Jesus Christ is with me! That is a priceless treasure!
In Christ's Name,