While the government and the economy are in crisis, writer Jo Acharya encourages us to turn to biblical wisdom and Jesus for our comfort. She says: “Let’s let the turbulence of these days drive us closer to him, hungry for his grace and guidance.”
I turned forty last week, and for most of my life, the world around me has seemed stable and dependable. Not long ago, our modern society looked firmly established, our way of life robust and secure. We knew what we were doing. Everything was under control.
Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:18 urge us to: “Fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” As a younger Christian, I wanted to take hold of God’s promise of a brighter kingdom. But at times the faint glimmers I saw of the spiritual realm could have almost been a mirage. This world just seemed so sure of itself, so solid, so real.
And then an invisible virus shut it all down overnight. And then a brutal war devastated a part of the world we thought was safe. And then, last month, a new policy announcement put the value of our money in peril.
Do you remember the story Emperor’s New Clothes? The emperor is tricked by a swindler who claims to have designed a magnificent outfit that can only be seen by those who are wise. Since no one wishes to be thought foolish, he and his whole kingdom are easily duped. Everyone showers his fine robes with praise – until finally, a small child blurts out the obvious: “Look! The emperor has no clothes on!”
The stable world I have put my faith in is nothing but an illusion. It is a palace built on shifting sand; an emperor caught wearing nothing at all.
I’ve been thinking about that story during the panic and turmoil that led to Kwasi Kwarteng’s resignation as chancellor last Friday. Like the early days of lockdown, these past few weeks have reminded me once again how fragile our way of life really is. The stable world I have put my faith in is nothing but an illusion. It is a palace built on shifting sand; an emperor caught wearing nothing at all.
Times like this are unsettling at best. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels anxious and disorientated. When life settles down again the sheer relief might tempt many of us to rush back to normality and forget anything ever happened. If we are brave enough to face it, the alarming uncertainty of life threatens to keep us uneasy, fearing the next shock.
But there is another way. Matthew 9:36 tells us that when Jesus saw the crowd: “He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” These moments of turmoil are hard – sometimes incredibly hard – but they are also blessed. They confront us with the reality of humankind as Jesus sees it: vulnerable, confused, frightened. And they point us to a deeper reality: our desperate need for something political leaders cannot provide.
Moments of turmoil point us to a deeper reality: our desperate need for something political leaders cannot provide.
This world we live in has never been solid or secure, though for short times, in small areas, it may have seemed to be. But when chaos comes, we don’t have to scatter in panic. We are people who have a shepherd. Let’s let the turbulence of these days drive us closer to him, hungry for his grace and guidance. Let’s chase those faint glimmers of the spiritual realm, where Jesus sits at the right hand of his Father and tirelessly prays for us; where God is keeping for us “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4).
We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and ambassadors for our Saviour. So let’s set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2) and allow the hope of a brighter world to seep through us into this one.