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There is a cost to living. We are often in danger of losing sight of it. There is a saying in the Bible, "Man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward." (Job 5.7) It is true. There are generations that don't need to be reminded of that, and generations that do. We live at the end of a generation that has known very little in the way of shared or national trouble. Perhaps we are about to find out that our trouble is the rising cost of living or worse.

There are, of course, various personal troubles that we all encounter from time to time: illnesses, family tensions, stresses at work. But we usually find a cure, a resolution, or an escape from these, or at least learn to to live with them. But then there are troubles that engulf us as whole societies or nations: wars, revolutions, epidemics, economic collapses. We have not experienced any major troubles of this sort in Britain since the Second World War (except perhaps Covid). So we have got used to thinking that they can no longer happen to us, that we can always rely on the Government to sort it all out for us. But we need to realise that there are limits to what any government can do, and that the age of disasters and crises is not over. "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward."

So where can we turn for help? I turn again to Psalm 46. 1-2:

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea."

You can read on to find much more reassurance and comfort.

This is not a magic formula that will make everything come right. It is first of all a comfort to know that we are not alone in trouble, that God knows and God cares, and God is with us. God will also speak to us, if we listen, and even act for us, if we ask. Someone who is listening and asking will often see signs of God's presence and providence in the way things turn out.

Indeed the first step as we encounter any sort of trouble is to turn to God. Why did God send Jesus to be our Saviour? Simply because the world that he had created had gone wrong, and we, through our sinfulness, our greed and selfishness, were in trouble. As long as we live in this sinful world, we shall never be free of trouble. We can find all sorts of help in trouble if we turn to God and turn to Jesus, but Jesus does not offer us a trouble-free life. "In the world you will have trouble," Jesus warned us, "But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16.33) He also said, "Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

That is a good place to be when we face all sorts of uncertainties about the future. But there are more practical ways in which we can cope with the threats of economic hardships and shortages. Older people will remember how we coped with these things during the last War. "Waste not. Want not". It was a good slogan, that we could well apply to our lives and to our habits today. We are grotesquely wasteful as a society today: one way and another we throw away 60% of the food we produced in the world: much of it goes in the bin in our supermarkets, and too much goes in the bins in our own homes. Another way we coped during the War was through rationing. That was compulsory rationing enforced by the Government. But we managed on the meagre rations that we were allowed (and were a good deal slimmer for it). We can ration ourselves if the house-keeping is short, especially rationing the more expensive items in the trolley.

Thankfully, more and more of the food wasted in the supermarkets is now donated to Food Banks of one sort and another. These give food and other necessities to people in need, donated to them by individuals as well as by the supermarkets,. Many of the first of these initiatives were Christian ones like Besom and Trussell Trust. It is important that we help one another through such means in times of hardship, either by donating or by volunteering to help. Another Christian initiative that deserves our support in times of financial crisis is Christians Against Poverty (CAP), which through the work of trained counselors helps those in debt.

Trouble is always with us in this world in one form or another. It should encourage us to remember the two Great Commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength", and "Love your neighbour as yourself."


Next week one last thought about Her Majesty

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