What may be a given for one may bring great joy for another. Likewise, what may be a given for one may devastate another.
We live in an unequal world. This isn’t just seen by comparing one side of town to another or the United States of America to the Kingdom of eSwatini (as the former Swaziland now prefers to be called), but also from one brother to the next, two childhood friends or two classmates.
A man can devote decades of his life to a company and suddenly find it over… nothing more than a distant memory. Months go by hopelessly with no end in sight as the money runs out and no more is coming while another person still works. A boy may seem like he has everything material he could ever ask for, only to see it fall apart while others still have what they had. One classmate may have a full ride scholarship or a wealthy family while another scrapes through school, working every second possible to ensure he has enough money just to continue.
In today’s society, there is more and more frequently a view that these inequalities are injustices, whereby the fact that one has what another has not must mean that the perceived more fortunate has wronged the less fortunate in some way or form.
But these inequalities are just that – perceived. This is not to say there are no differences, for we have already observed that there are. And, as in the case of the man or of the boy, there are times when people have much and other times when the same people have little. There are times when it would seem there was nothing more to hope for, and other times when everything looks so bleak that hope is lost. These differences are not limited to being between two entities, but even within one.
While one may seem to be at a disadvantage in one sense, they are blessed with their own advantage as well. While not all become famous enough for us to mention them by name and to immediately know their story, there are examples in the public eye. When a young boy growing up in the Dominican Republic in poverty picks up a baseball bat and years later finds himself earning millions of dollars for the New York Yankees, a homeless child finds his way into the NFL or a student who grew up poor earns a college degree, the strengths they have been blessed with are put on full display. These rags-to-riches stories are everywhere, but it isn’t all about money.
When you study for hours and hours to get the C on a test while your brother barely glances at a vocabulary list and gets an A, you put in several extra hours of practice a week but still find yourself on the bench or you put in your maximum effort and someone else gets the promotion you desire, you too are not any less blessed than they.
While everyone certainly has the tools they need in this life, so long as the choice is made to pursue it, it ultimately does not matter when it comes down to it.
In fact, any amount of accomplishments or lack thereof, any test score, any athletic record or any other achievement we may feel good about have only temporary value.
Even if the poor man never finds solid employment and has to work until he drops or the rich man never ceases to have an abundance, the same result comes for each… or so we hope.
It may very well be that the poor man ends up better than the rich man, even if the poor man can’t afford to be buried while the rich man has a celebrity appear at his funeral. Yet the opposite could be true.
The previous statement that inequality is only perceived probably requires an asterisk. The equalizer is available for each and every person, but not all receive it. The lack of reception may be from missing the memo or from flat out rejection, putting the invite through the shredder.
As those blessed with the equalizer, we can spread it to others, by its work rather than by ours.
This equalizer is the Gospel message, the good news. This message tells us in our abundance that we shouldn’t get too attached to that abundance, for even better times await without it. The message tells us when everything else looks scarce, limitless joy awaits. Abundance today may as well be scarcity, for it will never compare to what is to come nor be of any value in that future time. Scarcity today may as well be abundance, for the gift of greatness beyond comprehension has been given at great expense to the giver, and that gift has no end.
The jobless man is blessed far beyond his comprehension. The boy who lost something has something greater coming. The hard-working student has the same. The same is true for their job-keeping, no-loss and less-studious counterparts. The gift is for all and from one.
Knowing that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, suffered and died in our place, that our eternal salvation in the glory of God the Father may be had despite each of us falling so short of it, we are all truly as rich as Solomon… and moreso than anyone else without this message, no matter how much financial luxury they live in. And hopefully, this good news makes its way to them as well through us.
“The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child, and wife,
Though these all be gone,
Our vict’ry has been won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.” LSB 656 st. 4