In my (admittedly Gen Y) lifetime, I have never seen Tassie brought so low. A crumbling economy is seeing businesses calling the administrators in domino effect.
One after the other after the other…
I’m seeing families, their hearts stretched across Bass Strait as He is forced to take work interstate and She stays behind to look after the kids and the home. Once every six weeks they grip each other tightly and wish it could be different.
There are men who have worked one job for decades, who have one skill practiced to perfection. These men have been turned out and told to learn a new skill, to pick up what work they can elsewhere.
Dignity and pride have taken a beating.
Depression and despair are pervading.
I see a government floundering under the burden of such a dire economic scene and its response is to deflect attention to social reform. Get the people hot-tempered about gay marriage, euthanasia and surrogacy so that they forget the chilly climate of need in our state. Particularly chilly for those unable to afford the steep hike in electricity bills and so make do with another blanket and a hot water bottle rather than crank the heater.
Nearly 14 per cent of Tasmanians, that’s 56,000 people, are living below the poverty line according to data released last week to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week.
There are empty shops, empty bank accounts, empty plates.
God! Tassie needs some relief.
But then I read a rather outrageous chunk of the Bible: Matthew 5:1-12, titled The Beatitudes.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus begins.
Blessed are those who mourn.
Blessed are the meek.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Blessed are the merciful.
Blessed are the pure in heart and the peacemakers.
Qualities that most of us would associate with weakness, Jesus links to blessing. Those who endure hardship, who are crushed and downtrodden are blessed.
Sounds like a cruel joke. Try telling a forestry worker who’s out on his behind after 30 years on the machinery that he’s “blessed”. Yet, I see some of the God-logic.
I remember what God said to Paul when he was tormented by his own perilous circumstances. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And Paul’s response was, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that God’s power may rest on me.”
Well, I boast in Tasmania’s weaknesses. I boast in our state’s crippled economy, in the hardships of its people, in the jobless rates, the poverty rates, the depression rates. Because these are not beyond God’s control.
But more importantly, brokenness opens a crack of an opportunity for God to reveal himself. So often we leave no space for him in our self-sufficient, success-driven existence.
We are blinded by abundance.
We become our own gods.
Weakness is good and beautiful in God’s eyes. He takes the perceived weakness and makes it a blessing. “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10).
I hope, whatever your suffering, you will allow God to turn it into strength.
As printed in The Examiner newspaper for Keeping the Faith column, Monday October 22.