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serving jesus christ the king

A touch of realism

It’s all the rage these days—“the credit crunch”, “the downturn in the economy”, “the tough times in which we are living”.

A programme on tv the other night made me smile—they were talking about the discount supermarkets Lidl and Aldi, and one of those interviewed said something like, “Well maybe I’ll have to consider shopping there now that times are tougher”. What!—no more shopping at Mark’s and Spencer for your fruit and veg?! How catastrophic!

Now I know that isn’t characteristic of everyone—some are really struggling. But there is perhaps a touch of it about many. People are finding that they are no longer able to afford two cars, or a large flat-screen tv, or a mid-winter holiday to the sun. We’ve come a long way in Ireland since the bleak years of several decades ago. But has it all been for the good?

We forget that compared with much of the world we are still colossally well off. My cousin and her family live in Mali, and when they talk about having to tighten their belts until the rainy season comes, they mean it literally. In many parts of the world, talk about hard times and financial woes means having next to nothing, living off one meal a day—the same menu for months if not years.

Most of us haven’t even begun to experience real hardship. Yet there are those who have genuinely found life turned upside-down, their job gone, financial commitments soaring and having to count every penny. It isn’t a matter of where they shop, but what they’ll shop with. They are experiencing something much closer to real hardship.

What answer is there for us whether we are genuinely struggling or just having to economise a little more?

Part of the problem has been that we see ourselves as independent people who can cope with life, but the reality is that we are always dependent on some god to bail us out—our money, our abilities, our job etc.

None of these gods can do for us what the one true God can. And sometimes this God lets us see how needy we really are—he brings a touch of realism to our lives. That’s why he taught his followers to pray, “Give us today our daily bread”. It is a constant reminder that we are not independent, but very dependent. Our progress hasn’t made us any more independent, it has only blinded us to our reliance upon God for even the simplest things in life.

We need to get back to admitting our need and praying about it: “Give us this day our daily bread”. It’s humbling, but better to be humble than find God having to really humble us—far more than he has done to date—for our, often proud, self-reliance.

Those who do this find themselves on the receiving end of God’s caring promises, “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing… My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Psalm 34:10 & Philippians 4:19)

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