Ready or Not . . . Here we (don't) go . . .
We are all feeling the effects of inflation right now. As of yesterday’s data, it’s at a level we’ve not seen for 40 years. The late 70’s and early 80’s are getting worried that their lowly reputation might be dragged down by comparisons to today! I wrote that inflation was coming last year, and I was gratified for how some of you took evasive action:
Proverbs 22:3 (and 27:12) (ESV): The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.
But now, ready or not, here it comes. So I want to give a few exhortations to you, as you face the present situation:
Some - usually those more financially well-off - will say, “This is nothing. Back in my parents’ day . . . People in China are being persecuted . . . Gas prices in Europe have always been double-digits . . .” That’s all hogwash. Your struggle is your struggle, and inflation ain’t no fun. It’s frustrating and demoralizing, especially if you already had little margin in your life. God doesn’t tell us to solve our troubles by pretending they don’t affect us; we’re to look at out trials honestly. If you are simply tired, like so many are, that’s not nothing. God doesn’t poo-poo that and say it’s not as bad as so-and-so over there. God meets us where we’re at.
Yet Christians are always to look at ourselves first, to what the trial is revealing about us and our hearts. Judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). Not solely, but first. Inflation reveals just how happy, fat and sassy we’ve been for a long time. We’ve come to expect economic bounties, as if it is our birthright. But it’s not. Every good thing comes from above (James 1:17), not from manifest destiny or our country’s exceptionalism or our state’s supposed awesomeness. Be inflation’s pupil, and let it show you how you have become presumptuous, assuming upon God’s perfect gifts.
Then once we see the mercies of God that we’ve taken for granted, Paul says that that’s meant to lead us to repentance (see Romans 2:4). What does repentance look like here? It goes from presumption, to living in gratitude, for every perfect gift that comes from above.
This repentance will then lead to “times of refreshing” from the Lord (Acts 3:20). The book of Ecclesiastes pictures this “refreshing.” Time after time in that book we hear how fleeting life is, and how quickly the good times speed by. But Solomon also knows how to have joy IN those fleeting moments - or, as Paul put it, how to be content whether you’re up or you’re down (Phil. 4:11). The key is seeing and savoring the fact that God gives it all: a wife; a good meal with friends; work to do today; the different seasons of life . . . God gives it all, as a gift to us. When we see this, and actually do it - actually give Him gratitude for it all - we are enabled to enjoy the gift in the moment, rather than chafing at how it’s less than before, or passing by so quickly.
In all this looking inwardly, this does not mean we don’t look outwardly. God allows us to walk and chew gum at the same time. Feel free, while you “work on yourself,” to chew on the gum of Scripture, which is quite clear about what government-induced inflation is: theft, pure and simple. It is sin. And it is a grievous sin, because it unlawfully takes disproportionately from those who have less margin to give. Government-induced inflation violates the eighth commandment and mixes it with the bile of injustice. See this, but don’t drink the bile yourself; don’t become embittered. See inflation biblically, but then realize that, because it’s a sin, God will deal with this sinful injustice, too, justly and in His good time. The Bible allows us to call a spade a spade, yet without becoming embittered by it ourselves. And while you’re at it, if you like, vote differently.
While you’re looking around outside yourself, consider your brothers and sisters in your local church. We have a “benevolence fund,” whereby we pool our resources and give to those who lack the basic necessities of life. But perhaps in your case, God would have you forego the tax benefit, and not let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. Perhaps He would have you simply drop off groceries anonymously at that brother or sister’s doorstep. Or a grocery gift card in the mail. But won’t the state do the same thing, you ask? Again I say, hogwash. If inflation creates a larger population dependent on the state, it has only added to its sinful injustice, now with indignity. Let it not be so among the people of God. Let God be God, not the state.
Lastly, if we must work harder during this season for less fruit, remember this: it’s not work itself that’s the problem. The problem is God’s curse of sin that makes work so futile. But work itself is good. We should not be afraid of more work. For some of us, that might actually be psychologically and physically helpful (Ecclesiastes 5:12). The sinful injustices that create inflation and its indignities didn’t come from work itself, but from the original fall in the Garden (Genesis 3:17-19). Perhaps now is an opportunity to create a new income stream for you or your family, with another in your church.
Regardless, praise God that all this futility and fallenness is bounded by His sovereign control (1 Cor. 10:13) and has been overcome and reversed by His Son, crucified and risen for us. The new age is coming soon, when all this futility will be put away (1 Cor. 15:50-57). Until then:
1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV): Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.