In the UK a new record has just been achieved in the pay out on the National Lottery – two winning tickets each collecting 33 million pounds. The Euromillions prize for the upcoming weekend draw is estimated at £61 million. The US Powerball lottery jackpot was £1.04 billion streling. Yes, over a billion pounds. £1,040,000,000. Each of these amounts are astonishing and clearly life changing amounts of money to win. I wonder how many of you reading this buy a ticket regularly? And how you feel each week as the draw is made? The UK National Lottery has been running for 21 years – that’s just over 1100 weeks. Is it now a matter of routine? Has the draw lost some of its excitement? I guess so. I occasionally buy a ticket (paradoxically when the prize is at its biggest and so have less chance of winning!) but each time I do, I think about all the good things I could do with that amount of money. I always hope that I’ll win, but never expect to.
On all US currency, coins and notes, the motto of the United States is printed or embossed. That motto is “In God we trust” which it is said comes from the words of the Star Spangled Banner “And this be our motto ‘In God We Trust’”. In a country where church and state are legally separate, it is perhaps surprising to see this still present, and a third legal attempt is currently under way to have it removed. All of this begs the question, in whom do we trust? Our Christian Bible has something to say on the matter. “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (note: not money itself!) from 1 Timothy 6.10. “No one can serve two masters … you can’t serve God and mammon” from Matthew 5.24. These verses give pause for thought about trusting money as the saviour of our problems and issues. The Psalmist writes that we are not to “put our trust in princes, in human beings” because of course they will always let us down eventually. Rather, the writer of Proverbs (probably King Solomon) tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Pr 3.5). It isn’t easy to do that, of course, if you are like me and want to solve all your own problems and all those around you. The very next verses in Proverbs suggest that we can do that by simply asking God on a regular basis “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (v6); soaking up the awesomeness of God and “not be impressed with your own wisdom, instead fear the Lord and turn away from evil”. And the benefits of placing our trust in God? His peace which goes beyond human understanding. Joy in the face of challenge and difficulty. And a promise of hope for the future.