Supply chain issues
Fragile. Stretched thin. Buckling. Nearing collapse.
On an almost daily basis now, we’re hearing about global supply chains inching ever closer to a breaking point. Those of us outside of industry haven’t spent our lives worrying or thinking about supply chains, much less using those two words in everyday conversation. But supply chain issues are everyday reality right now.
At the paint store this morning, I asked the store manager about the half-empty shelves. “We can’t get product,” he said. “Only a couple of companies in the world supply the core ingredients that make paint, and they’re all backed up. It’s a global issue.”
The owner of a local car dealership told me last week that he has only six new cars on his lot. Six! In pre-pandemic times, he could count on having around 300 at any given time. Shoes and electronics, many of them made in Asia, are just the tip of the iceberg for brewing consumer shortages.
All kinds of factors are to blame. The pandemic has wreaked havoc at every level, of course. Weather events, like hurricanes in the Gulf, have done the supply chain no favor. COVID-19 deaths have inflicted a heavy toll on longshore, dock, and warehouse workers. Labor shortages have hit every industry. Ports are clogged with international vessels waiting weeks to unload. Key industries that allow the global supply chain to function – cargo terminals, railroads, oceangoing vessels, trucking, warehouses – are not collaborating. It’s a mess. And higher prices are the unavoidable result.
Although I’ve paid little attention to supply chains in the past, and have little to contribute to realigning them in the present, it occurs to me that the term is not irrelevant to my faith. On a spiritual level, which is supposed to be more important to me than my consumer existence, I rely on God supplying me with grace and mercy, not to mention breath, every single day. If I take to heart the significance of that supply I receive, I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to move it along – in chain fashion – to other people. In other words, there’s no reason for me not to supply other people with more love, more encouragement, more considerate speech, and more understanding than they may be feeling in whatever state their current frustration, fear, or impatience finds them. And the same goes for you.
Together, we are part of the supply chain of God’s presence in the world. If that supply chain gets congested or snarled or broken, we have only ourselves to blame. Higher prices won’t result. Only disappointment for God and new questions about how faithful we really are to the Lord who supplies our lives with SO much.