Wars, earthquakes, national security, elections. As ever, there’s plenty to fan the flames of anxiety.
And yet, one issue polls head and shoulders above the rest as our greatest cause of stress and worry: the cost of living. When it rises – as it has been – the temperature of the media’s messaging simmers up to a fever pitch. An existential alarmism accompanies every interest rate rise.
Some wave this off as childish complaining from a generation who has had it too easy for too long. However, the real-world impacts are difficult to ignore. Counselling one hotlines are reporting call-rates at all-time highs and google searches on suicide are on the rise. Somehow, we need to steer clear of both dismissiveness and fatalism.
Around 2000 years before our latest inflation figures came in, Jesus invited people to consider the birds in the sky. Warning against worry, he said that they neither sow nor reap, yet their Father feeds them. At first instance, the shoe doesn’t seem to fit. Unlike birds, we *do* need to ‘sow’ and ‘reap’. Petrol, milk, bread and toothpaste aren’t free. And birds don’t have to deal with phone, electricity or gas bills.
But Jesus’ point was not to trivialise our struggles, but to invite us to consider a deeper view of reality – one that takes into account the metaphysical, not just the financial. In it – and in him – we are invited into relationship with a loving God who is the ultimate custodian over all. Our bills, jobs and worries remain ours, but not ours alone. Jesus’ offer is not one of escape from our struggles, but an invitation to trust in someone who promises to get us through them.