As we race towards the end of 2022 a few thoughts I have in my mind that I would like to share with you.
- The Covid-disrupted period is ending. We are learning to live with Covid as a virus. Australia is open for business. Australians are travelling again in large numbers. We are busy and working hard but it is challenging to make a profit. Lack of staff is a huge issue (where did they all go?) and will be ongoing. Flexible work is here to stay and every business needs to work out how they adapt.
- The impact of the past 3 years will last for a generation. It is still too early to determine exactly what that impact will be. Just like the Great Depression of 1929-33 shaped the mindset of a generation so will this Covid period have lingering ongoing impact. Some of the early signs include the large number of people who do not want to work as hard or as many hours away from home. The demand for flexible work conditions will stay. Gen Z employees remain highly mobile and many have a side hustle with an online business. For Gen Z there is no long term commitment to a career served in one business. There is a huge reduction in volunteering.
- Inflation has emerged as a problem. As a result of the 3 years of huge government expenditure into the economy during Covid, huge increases in property prices, along with increases of energy costs, and supply and staff shortages generally, costs have spiralled and we are all paying. As expected, wages are starting to follow. The Reserve bank is desperately trying to stop an inflationary cycle with regular increases in interest rates. House prices are falling and everyone has less disposable income.
- Global issues are causing increased fear. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing atrocities have shocked a world that thought Europe was past such carnage in 2022. The rise of China and the resultant tensions and trade issues with us are concerning. The prospect of being dragged into a war over Taiwan makes our recent stronger commitments to AUKUS alliances feel dangerous rather than comforting.
- The response to climate change. The Albanese Government climate change policy has us hurtling towards an energy transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources that cannot be built fast enough. At the same time we are shutting down coal-fired power stations more quickly than appears smart. Resultant increases in electricity and gas prices is hurting households and business. Some billionaires seem to be leading the charge because they see a huge business opportunities if they are the first to benefit from a renewables boom. The concern is a transition that our government is ill-equipped to manage and that will hurt middle and lower income families much harder than is necessary.
- Mistrust of all media. Since 2016 the era of fake news has made it difficult for many to know whether they have accurate information or not from our news services. While biased reporting has always been a factor, it is more challenging than ever to find objective reporting on world events and issues. This has increased fear and mistrust, and led to a desire from many to retreat into their own self-made bubble.
- People are tired and less sure about their place in the world. In general, there appears to be a tiredness that runs deep and fears running just below the surface that are easily stirred. Our western world has long ago tipped into a malaise of despair. Most American movies of the past 20 years are more like European movies of the last century – full of angst and darkness. There is very little hope or clear light that permeates our culture from any source. No-one (except maybe Zelensky in Ukraine) is offering leadership that can provide hope and unite a nation.
Christmas is a time to be renewed in your source of HOPE.
My hope in the midst of such a world that I describe above goes back to the birth of Jesus. That there is a God who loves us is difficult for many to grasp when they feel fear more than faith in their everyday lives. Religion has muddied the message of hope found in Jesus.
What I know is that Jesus, the Son of God, was born into an obscure part of the middle East just over 2000 years ago. He lived a remarkable life and in the last 3 years of his life preached a message of hope that God was near to those who would humble themselves and be open to receive Him. He cut through the religious rules of the day and called ordinary men and women to come to a relationship with God as ‘abba’ Father.
To seal his message as truth, he rose again from the dead, after being killed by a lethal mix of religious and political power. He has made it possible for ordinary people across the ages to relate to God in heaven in simple faith.
Simply trusting Jesus is the key to my confidence. I have followed him for over 50 years. I am imperfect and have no desire or right to judge anyone. God’s gracious love towards me has given me forgiveness and hope. This has liberated my heart and provided a strong enduring foundation for my personal world.
I pray that you will find such hope and love in Jesus this Christmas