How’s your fuel gauge looking at the moment? Mine’s not so healthy. We have just enough to get us to and from the church I’m preaching at on Sunday. Fortunately, I work from home and (hopefully) don’t need to go out anywhere between now and then.
Have you found yourself in a petrol queue recently? I spent 45 minutes queuing the other evening, only to find it empty of fuel when I finally got there. Yes, it was frustrating, but I tried to look on the bright side. I have enough for my current needs, and my husband made me a very welcome cup of tea when I got home!
I have to confess to a real sadness at the way some people have reacted to this latest crisis. But I’m realising that, actually, it’s born out of a sense of insecurity, which has been heightened considerably by the events of the last couple of years. At one time, we knew where we stood – or we thought we did. Life was tripping along very nicely, thank you very much, and then Brexit, Covid, and now the petrol crisis have come upon us, one thing after another.
What might Jesus have to say to us about this?
Well, first, I think he’d remind us not to ‘worry about tomorrow’, that ‘each day has enough trouble of its own’ (Matthew 6:34). I got into bed last night and immediately the ‘What if…?’ thoughts decided it was playtime in my brain. ‘What if there’s an emergency and I can’t get there?’ ‘What if I can’t get petrol for weeks?’ My brain has a very frustrating habit of doing this at bedtime. So I took it in hand, prayed for the grace to stop the unhelpful thoughts, and asked God for sleep. Before I knew it the alarm was waking me up this morning – thank you, Lord, for answered prayers.
And then, I think Jesus would want to remind us where our security lies. It isn’t in petrol or toilet rolls, nor is it in the things these items represent – our work and our material needs. Now, don’t get me wrong. These things are really important. But our ‘heavenly Father knows [we] need them’ (Matthew 6:32). Yes, we might have to sit in a ridiculously long queue to fill our fuel tank, but let’s try to keep in mind the bigger picture.
I think Jesus would also want us to remember that we are not more important than the next person. Yes, we are all infinitely important to God, but there are likely others in that petrol queue whose needs are more important than mine. I’m not a key worker. I don’t even need to leave my house to go to work. Yes, I had plans to go out this week, but they’re not essential. And I pray for those who are in life-saving jobs, or whose livelihoods mean they need to travel, that they will be able to obtain what they need.
And finally, I think Jesus would remind us that we are called to be different. We are ‘in the world, but not of it’ (see John 17:14). So when we’re in that petrol queue and someone tries to push in front of us, how do we react? Do we hoot and shout and wave our fist? Or do we think about how Jesus would react, and show grace, allowing perhaps for the possibility that their need is greater than our own?