In this period of economic downturn there is much tightening of belts going on. There is the fear of losing a job, and the depression that comes from having lost one. People aren’t going out as much, aren’t buying as much. At a time of low interest rates, credit is very hard to get, and mortgages are only available if you have a substantial deposit and a secure salary.
Today in the UK, not having a television is one of the official measures of poverty. When I was very young, it was a mark of affluence – black and white affluence, but still affluence! Our standard of living has increased immensely in a relatively short period. We have more possessions than we ever had, and we throw them away faster than we ever did. Once they are out of fashion, they are out of the door. Once they are old tech, we are looking at the new.
The space they leave is filled quickly by a more desirable possession. Shopping therapy is good for you, they say. You are invited, tempted, encouraged to go and buy the latest goods. Why are they called “goods”? It’s because they are good, they are what you need, they make you happy, they make you content. Buy them and be happy! It’s good for you!
A lot of the economic misery that we are going through now is directly a result of the stuff that we didn’t need, but which we could buy. We could buy it even when we didn’t have the money, because credit was easy to get – as much as you want. Buy, buy, buy, borrow, borrow, borrow. We blame the bankers, but in many ways it was us too. We asked for it; they gave us it. We call it economic misery because it is not letting us be happy, not letting us get this or that. We are possessed by possessing.
I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. (Ps 9:2, NLT)
That’s the problem, you see. We might be filled with happiness at having the latest, fanciest “thing”, but it soon fades, and it is only happiness. Happiness makes you smile. Joy makes you jump, dance, sing! Being filled with joy is the way to go! And we are filled with joy because of God – not because of what he gives us – just because of him. He might bless us with possessions, or even wealth, but they too are just things. It’s the fact that he is who he is that brings joy.
He isn’t the supplier, he is the I AM.