... is a word that seems currently to dominate our news headlines... whether that is fuel, HGV and tanker drivers, certain foodstuffs... and so the list goes on. Our faith does not give us some holy exemption from all these struggles that are, seemingly, becoming part of an ever-lengthening list of crises to which there do not appear to be any easy answers. Much of the conversation and debate that I have seen and heard about this is focussed on whose fault all this is and I am sure that we probably all have our own views on that point!
My thoughts have then moved on to whether there is a specifically "Christian" or faith-based response to these matters? Is there a practical response that is unique to people of faith in our communities? Yes, we can pray for solutions and for guidance, but should there be a confessed recognition of our contributing part in all of this? The shortages we are experiencing, whilst they are inconvenient, are nothing like those experienced by those illustrated in the above picture. Is there a need to reflect and confess our contribution to the shortages that we see? Think for a moment about your attitude to food miles, use of seasonal produce, recycling, food waste, energy use... Already advertisers working on behalf of the food companies are telling what we need to have the perfect Christmas and the Government are yet again promising to "save Christmas" by recruiting more HGV drivers from those people who had to leave the United Kingdom as a result of decisions made following the decision to leave the European Union.
Throughout the biblical narrative, there are examples of God's people being reminded time and again that they should be "content with the things they need" (Graham Kendrick)... the manna and quails in the wilderness; the gifts of the people to God organised by Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:9-11); don't eat too much honey (Proverbs 25:16) and the parables in which Jesus cautions about being greedy and storing too much up on earth. Some years ago, Christian Aid made use of the slogan, "Live simply, that others may simply live".
This is not a call to a life of sackcloth and ashes, of a life without enjoyment or pleasure. However, I do think that, as we work out what Christian mission and ministry looks like in a world still affected by a pandemic, where so much to do with individual confidence and community life has changed almost imperceptibly, we need to re-evaluate the relationship we experience between our personal faith and what we see of God's kingdom growing around us.
So, while we may not have an answer to the fuel or driver shortages, we absolutely can seek to reverse the shortages of tolerance, generosity, grace and mercy, forgiveness and love (that is the self-giving love of Christ) which are still so prevalent across our society... why? Because God loved the world (not just the Christians or the people that behave like us): God loved the world so much that he sent his son... "so that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:17)
There is no shortage of God's love...... unless we choose not to share it.