6 The righteous shall see and fear,
and shall laugh at him, saying,
7 “See the man who would not make God his refuge,
but trusted in the abundance of his riches….”
— Psalm 52: 6-7a
Just about every day, I wish I had the option of trusting money instead of God. Money is easy. It’s fairly regular. It’s reliable insomuch as I would have control over it. Unfortunately, I have none of it, have never had any of it, and have no prospects of getting any of it. In fact I live most days wondering how I’m going to get enough of it to live the next day.
Contrariwise, God is frequently difficult, obscure, unpredictable, fundamentally outside my control; but abundant. He’s constantly offering himself. It’s just difficult for me to view it except like this: money would let me purchase peace and safety; God offers an everlasting supply of those, but not apparently right now.
I live in an affluent culture and am the sort of victim it creates. I don’t mean to say that I’m one of the poor people who is victimized by rich people, I mean to say that I’m one of the poor people who wishes he could be one of the rich people, which is far more tragic. The first sort of poor person can hope for justice, and Christianity promises that that hope will be fulfilled. The second sort of poor person can only fear justice–the justice which will judge him for seeking after vanity–with the equal assurance that that fear will be fulfilled.
It’s pretty common where I live to talk about “first world problems,” a way of belittling how upset people get about their luxuries. We’re told to remember the people who don’t have those luxuries, so that we can pity them and help them.
It’s true that people in poorer parts of the world suffer from starvation, sickness, oppression, and all sorts of other terrors. It’s right to object to all of those things and to try to end them; I would never say otherwise. But the people in those parts of the world also frequently exemplify a sort of profound joy; they have nothing, but have hope about everything. Our culture has everything except hope; only wealthy people experience melancholy, only the rich and safe ever call life meaningless.
Maybe people in the poorer parts of the world have more right to pity us for our luxuries. Our luxuries will pass; their hope will endure.