Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Debbie Downer Denied!

Don't get me wrong.  I love my life, we have our health and our family and also all that we need to survive and to thrive in this beautiful city of ours, and I am blessed beyond belief.  If there is anyone who should be eternally grateful and thankful, it is me.  And I am - to God be the glory.

However, it seems that the rest of the world is in meltdown mode, and that's a total downer on my party.  In Vancouver, the news du jour is the disaster called the Olympic Athlete's Village (Millenium Water, or whatever those condos are called).  Long story short, it's going to cost taxpayers a LOT of money to bail out this project (which comes with a completion guarantee to initial financiers), and at a time when real estate is not moving (meaning that the ability to recoup the losses in full is pretty much impossible).  In real estate, the 0-down, 40-year amortization mortgages approved under Harper's government have left our nation in a recession that will likely rival the one being experienced by our neighbours to the south.  Many of our friends have lost massive equity in their homes, and some may end up losing their homes if property values continue to plummet and interest rates go up even a percent.  Meanwhile, jobs are being cut continent-wide, people are being laid off, and all the while food prices are still on the rise.  The D-word (depression) has come up in conversation more than once, and there is much uncertainty about tomorrow.

On Sunday, our pastor preached on Ecclesiastes 7, and basically challenged us with the message that adversity is not always bad, and prosperity is not always good, at least where God's purposes are concerned.  Prosperity makes it hard for people to trust in God or to put Him first; it is all too easy to rely on things, and to put one's faith in what one has.  This is why Jesus made the statement about the camel and the needle; it is not God who prevents the wealthy from entering His kingdom, it is the wealthy themselves, and their idolatry in their possessions.  

By contrast, the testing of our faith, which oft comes by way of adversity, is what produces perseverance and confirms the authenticity of our faith.  It is in the valleys of life that our hope is secured in God alone, and our faith refined by fire, or it is in those same valleys that our hope turns elsewhere and our idols are revealed.  During those low points in life, we have a unique opportunity to refocus our priorities on what is truly important, and to emerge from the darkest days being more steadfast in what (and who) we believe.  When we wrestle with the hard questions (the why? and the how?), we are reminded of our mortality and the hope of glory that is yet to come.  In reframing our existence that way, the circumstances of the day seem more temporal relative to the eternity that we are preparing ourselves for in this life.

It scares me to think that the day of adversity is coming for me, for us, as well.  Pastor Norm challenged us to welcome the adversity rather than to be overwhelmed by it, but I have to confess that I'm not a big fan of refinement-by-fire.  I'm not keen on having to suffer, and I am fearful of what that suffering will reveal about me and my faith and my hope.  I can only pray that, like the apostle Paul, I will be able to be content in any circumstance, when I have plenty and when I am in need, and to be able to enjoy what I do have, whether it is little or much.  King Solomon suggests, in Ecclesiastes, that the ability to enjoy what we have is a gift of God, and only possible by the power of God.  I pray that God would empower me to find joy and blessing in everything, every day, and to be mindful and thankful at all times.

Otherwise, it's just too easy to sink into Debbie Downer mode when I look around me and see so much suffering and anxiety and fear in the world.  


~Rain``` said...

Very timely, considering I have been perusing Ecclesiastes these days.

Btw, my husband gets quite the kick out of the Despair.com posters. I just e-mailed him a copy of your image!