You may have heard of the recent collapse of two banks in the United States – Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank – within days of each other, the biggest bank failures since the 2008 global financial crisis. The reasons for their collapse are different. One catered for the up-and-coming tech industries, the start-ups and the high-income younger executives; the other dealt with business in the old-fashioned way, capitalized on political alliances, and considered art on the wall as a sign of complacency. One suffered from the rapid rise of interest rates as their investors withdrew too much money in a short time to pay debts, draining cash reserves to the point where the bank had to tell people not to do so. The request triggered mass panic. The other bank invested heavily in crypto currency which saw enormous unexpected downturns in the last few months, and the authorities had to sweep in to close its doors to contain the damage. Different reasons, indeed. But both banks fell all the same. And the most frightening thing is the desperation that comes when thousands of people whose business accounts, financial security and life savings are frozen shut in a matter of minutes.
As I read the unfolding stories, I ask myself what our own security is based on – a stable job, a peaceful family, a safe place to live, a sufficient savings account, a sound body and mind? Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:17-21 of a lightning event that will begin what He calls the Days of Tribulation. There’s no time to pack or to say goodbye. There’s time just to flee. The events of the present are merely a reminder for any of us too comfortable with creature comforts that security does not come in material things. Just this past week, I was at the hospice bedside of a woman whose cancer had progressed rapidly through her body in a matter of a little more than a month. Her home was a collection of a thousand things that she could not let go of just in case she still needed them. “Pastor Tim,” she said, “ask my husband to throw it all away.” I went home and threw out all kinds of things I held on to myself. And then the Spirit said, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions” (Luke 12:15). It is a good lesson to learn. Life is like a vapor. Security is like a breath. Let’s see that we spend it less on things temporal, and more on the things of God.