by Donald Guest, Pastor
Every day we hear and read the news that hundreds and sometimes thousands of people are losing their jobs. Job loss is a reality in an economic system based on profit where shareholders must see dividends or “heads roll.” Even now there is a drive by some in Congress to attach benefit, salary and wage concessions to the proposed economic bailouts. Often the poorest are victims of the excesses and greed of those who already have wealth far beyond their needs. We know this is unfair, but that this reality remains unchallenged and unchanged. Too many Americans believe the myth that they will one day be rich if we just leave the present system in place and make the sacrifices.
Given the actual wealth that is generated in our society, it is indeed possible to provide quality education, health care, shelter and sustenance for all. This is not a new idea. The Roman Empire guaranteed bread, safety, a form of citizen education and shelter for all of its citizens. It does require us to abandon placing profits before people. This is a fundamental change requiring sacrifices that go far beyond short-term bailouts, charity and subsidy.
On a personal level, facing this imbalance in our economy tempts us to so often focus on what we lack rather than what we have. This creates apathy, defeatism and depression. It paralyzes us. Our vision for life disappears, creativity dries up, and we are filled with fear. Fear-driven actions and performance are never productive and conducive for the life-transforming/societal transforming work we hope to accomplish here at GLIDE.
On a deep spiritual level, it is important to remember that none of us is truly self-sufficient. We are not meant to be. Deuteronomy 8:17-18 reminds us that we cannot provide for ourselves without God’s help. It does not mean sit back and wait for God to do something or act, but it is an acknowledgment that life and we are meant to be inter-dependent. The love that resides in each of us was meant to nurture us and recreate life through us as we connect with others. What is happening to one is happening to all. All that we have; our lives, our jobs, our skills and the opportunity and strength to use them is a gift from God.
When we see with the eyes of faith, our fears about daily needs, jobs, and layoffs can become continual reminders that we are connected to God, our source for everything good. God offers us unfailing comfort and help and will be with us as we work to change the systems that keep us and others in need. The same One who gives us “power to get wealth” is also with us when health and wealth are gone.
With this faith, no matter how many times we get knocked down, and no matter how hard we get hit, we can get up again. Death, disease, economic challenges, failures, losses, and oppression are facts of life, but so are life and health and restoration and success—according to our faith. Together it is our mission at GLIDE to join in the process of recovery, a recovery of our true selves, capable of giving love and receiving it, of creating life and not destroying it, of achieving peace without and within as we celebrate all the possibilities that this love of life and self opens us to.
Speaking Life Always,