‘Safe as houses’ they used to say. But that was in days when ‘It’s in the bank’ was still a statement of confidence. House prices have dived and banks have gone bust. It’s not a happy picture. ‘Safe as houses’ they used to say. But that was in days when ‘It’s in the bank’ was still a statement of confidence. House prices have dived and banks have gone bust. It’s not a happy picture.
Now, on top of these economic woes, we have had political turmoil, sparked off by a scandal over MPs’ expenses. At a time when most of the population are anxious about their jobs or worried about their savings and pensions, our leaders have been indulging in ‘expenses padding’ and ‘flipping’ second homes to avoid tax.
A whole raft of parliamentarians, protesting they’ve done no wrong, have been cast adrift on these stormy seas – and are resigning because the voters don’t believe them any more. ‘The mother of parliaments’ is having trouble with her children.
Loss of trust
We live in times racked by domestic and international instability – times when the country needs to look to its leaders, rely on its enduring institutions, and ride out the storm. Yet there has been a massive loss of trust in those very individuals and organisations; a loss reflected in the recent European and local council elections.
Revelations of exorbitant expenses claims and cynical tax-avoidance schemes have caused anger – not simply because they involve the very people who decide the taxes we pay, but because MPs tried to cover up their actions.
Trust is a delicate flower. It takes a long time to grow but can wither in a day. When people feel deceived, it is hard to restore confidence and rebuild faith. Now politicians are paying the price.
The church to the rescue?
Disillusioned with the state, people might be expected to turn to those that claim to be churches in difficult times. Yet here too, terrible betrayal is revealed. The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has confessed to thousands of cases of sordid abuse and exploitation of children in its care homes over decades.
Nor, sadly, can people rely upon many Protestant churches to champion principles of truth or maintain standards of conduct. Some clergy in national churches condone (and even celebrate) immorality in their ranks as a reflection of society.
Failure by the Church of Scotland to deal with the case of an openly homosexual minister is a shameful reflection upon that once great denomination, while liberalism continues to eat away at the heart of traditional values.
No man is an island
Might we, then, find help within ourselves? No. The apparently arbitrary way in which trouble befalls us warn against self-reliance. Perhaps you were a high-flyer at work or a key member of a successful team. Maybe you made all the right decisions, but your strengths and skills mean nothing when events overtake you.
We deceive ourselves if we imagine we have the tools to cope with whatever life throws at us. We kid ourselves if we suppose our resources are sufficient to withstand the storms of life.
How easily our world can fall apart when illness, accident or redundancy strike. All the insurance in the world cannot replace the irreplaceable. Even the toughest break.
Who then can we trust?
We can trust Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is faithful and trustworthy. He keeps his word, fulfils his promises, and acts towards his people in love and mercy. He guarantees to receive all who come to him, trusting him in faith and complete dependence. And who is there better to trust?
It is a matter of historical fact that men and women in all ages have found the Lord Jesus to be a haven in times of trouble. He is the great supplier of his people’s every material and spiritual need. He is the giver and sustainer of physical life and the sole supplier of spiritual life.
He feeds the bodies of his people with daily bread and nourishes their souls with manna from above. When they are bruised and beaten down, he pours in oil and wine – granting them the Spirit of grace and holiness to prepare them for the world to come.
The patriarch Abraham acknowledged the coming Christ to be the provider of his every need, while Paul testified, ‘my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19).
A call to trust
Many are worried because their plans have been thwarted, their assets and nest-eggs diminished, their confidence shaken and their trust betrayed. But in themselves such trials will not drive people to trust in Christ. It takes a lot more than a banking crisis or unemployment to change a person’s heart.
Nevertheless, the Lord sometimes uses such things to expose the emptiness of our own efforts and the worthlessness of our works. Men seek comfort in their own achievements but, when everything else fails,
Christ is revealed as the rock that stands firm. When friends forsake us, he sticks closer than a brother. When prices go up and pensions come down, Christ shows us where true riches are found.
We can come to Christ only as we recognise our own failure. We cannot experience grace as a reward, only as a mercy. We will not experience divine love until we feel our need of it. Cleansing only comes when we confess our sin and call on the name of the Lord Jesus for forgiveness.
Hear his words to weary sinners in Matthew 11:28: ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’. Are you weary of your own efforts to please God? Are you weighed down by the burdens of sin and guilt? Are you troubled at the state of your soul?
What greater welcome could you desire? Come and find rest in Jesus Christ. And here also is his promise – ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’. You can depend upon it.