This may be the most obvious thing that you will read this week, but the economic situation in Ireland is pretty desperate. Now you could argue that this has been the case for the last 2+ years. However, things have really come to a head in this last week.
How do I know that? Well, the Irish economy has been making the headlines on BBC News and in the British newspapers. That must say something about how serious the situation is.
The country is in serious debt, and has had to go to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund for a bail out. The necessity for this was denied by the government until last weekend, then, suddenly, they arrived.
The problem is that during the “Celtic Tiger” prosperity years, there was no provision made for what would happen when the bubble burst. And it has now. The government yesterday brought forward a 4 year plan of austerity measures and there will be a severe budget on 7th December.
Without getting into the politics of the situation too much, it is fair to say that the Fianna Fail (and Green) government are responsible to a large extent for this. The other parties (Fianna Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein) have been critical of them for it and have called for a General Election. That will happen, but not until the end of January at the earliest. Before that, the government have to try to get their budget passed by parliament. After that, they will in all probability lose the election, and there will be a Fianna Gael/Labour coalition.
Of course, if you live in Ireland, you will know all this better than me. The question I would like to ask is “what should we as Christians make of it all?”
The first thing is that governments are put in place by God. The Apostle Paul makes that clear:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1 ESV).
That means we need to recognise their authority. Not easy to do if we feel that they have been incompetent!
Secondly we need to pray for them. Again, to quote Paul:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV)
Many of those in government would not acknowledge God, but we need to pray that their decisions will have the consequences of these verses.
There is a lot of doom and gloom about at the moment, understandably so. The austerity measures will impact on the lives of many people. But if we put things into Biblical perspective, we can have hope that whatever happens at the end of this crisis, God is in control. He has put the government there, he wants us to pray to him for them. Our confidence is in him.