Warren Buffett, the Omaha wizard, the prairie sage, is a legend in the investment world. Shares of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, even during this financial slump, will cost you in the neighborhood of $100,000 a share. Buffett has never allowed the stock to split and just let the share price climb over the years. It was his goal to discourage speculators and encourage long-term investors.
Buffett describes himself as a contrarian. In a recent periodical he counsels American investors to go the opposite direction of the multitudes. “When the herd is getting greedy, I get afraid,” he said. “When the herd is afraid, I get greedy.” Needless to say, in this long winter of—what shall we call it: recession? depression? repression?-- he has been buying, not selling.
It strikes me that our God might also describe himself as a contrarian. When our lives are comfortable and pampered, he gets afraid that we will become smug and complacent. When our lives are hard and full of struggle, he sees opportunity. After many years of serving the Lord, St. Paul also came learn that God’s strength was made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). When our hearts are softened and chastened they are easier to shape. When we’re aware of our desperate need for God, we are more likely to pray. When we realize that we can’t make it on our own, we are more likely to notice the help that he sends. When we realize that we can’t get our own agenda to happen, we might just pay more attention to his.
In 1976-77 I spent my pastoral intern year doing church-planting high up in the Andes in a poor barrio in the city of Medellín. I was far from home, lonely as could be. Never in my life did I read my Bible as eagerly or pray more intensely. That year of struggle drew me closer to God than I had ever been. How about you? Has God ever been a contrarian in your life?
Straight talk. Real hope.