“Whether it’s mending a failing company, fighting corruption, tackling disease, or rebuilding a marriage, the hardest problems defy just add-water remedies. Indeed, slapping on a Band-Aid when surgery is needed usually just makes things worse.” -Carl Honore – Canadian Journalist
I’m a solution-oriented person. I don’t like to put Band-Aids on heart surgery. That just leaves space for greater problems to resurface. Are we willing to see beyond the superficial and get to the root of knotty problems and address them the hard way? Sometimes counseling is necessary when we’re blocked and can’t go deep enough or haven’t had sufficient life experience to come to peace with our past or handle our present. Most of us didn’t grow up learning how to handle finances. It’s hard to go cold turkey on spending or incorporate the discipline necessary to avoid debt, or save enough for emergencies. We haven’t learned how to do the hard work now to not suffer consequences later. Yes, as a pastor, I want to help people; to give them enough food for days/weeks. Some don’t comprehend that I really want to offer folks a way out of negative cycles, if people are willing to take it. That’s why our approaches address root causes and not just symptoms.
A Band-Aid is an adhesive bandage with a gauze pad in the center, used to cover minor wounds. Figuratively, it’s a makeshift or temporary solution like the economic ones we’re experiencing now. It seems obvious that a $1200 stimulus check that might come within 3 months, doesn’t solve anything for a person who has been laid off and whose rent or mortgage due is $1200 per month. The census tells us that 90% of small businesses in America are single owner, mom and pop establishments that make just $50k-60k per year and don’t employ anyone. So giving millions of dollars to moguls whose businesses make 100’s of millions and have 50-500 employees but not to these lifestyle business owners, puts a lot of folks into immediate crisis. 40% of Americans don’t have $400 for an emergency. They couldn’t stockpile extra groceries if they wanted to unless they borrow for them. People were already living paycheck to paycheck. So the problem is much deeper than toilet paper handouts and grocery store gift-card giveaways. There are predictions of a great recession, homes lost, and more people unemployed and displaced.
I’ve been asking God for prophetic answers like He gave Joseph to store grain when famine was coming to Egypt (Gen. 41). These solutions ensured that the nation he was leading and his family were secure. The best land was set aside for Israel in Goshen, which means to draw near, to cultivate. God is drawing us for preparation: to break up the soil of our hearts, and give us new territory to develop. In this season, we’ll have to garner favor and new friendships and apply ourselves to improve in our areas of weakness. I believe there is a place of safety for Christ-followers as we put off presumption, and repent, seek the LORD, hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, and obey the Word of God.“We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer.” (Prov. 16:1)The next waves of the effects of this pandemic, as we begin to re-enter society, are going to be in areas like personal finance/economics, devastated relationships, educational disparities, and mental-health (grief, depression, PTSD, anxiety, fear). Some will try to seize this moment of crisis and use it for their own gain. The virus might surge again. The recovery may take years for some. We’ll need wisdom, patience, and a plan. In cities across the Nation, pastoral leaders will not just be focused on their churches, but their Cities. Like Jeremiah, we’ll, “seek the peace (prosperity/welfare) of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” (Jer. 29:7) Let’s pray for more than Band-Aids; let’s ask God for solutions.