Embracing the real

Inflation in Brazil reached an astonishing 2,000 percent in 1993.  Prices for everything were increasing overnight, literally.  It’s a phenomenon known as hyperinflation.  Paychecks were immediately cashed and spent, since they would be worth significantly less the next day.  Planning for the future was impossible.

The government’s solution: adopt a new currency, one that had not been hopelessly diluted by public opinion and profligate government spending.  Prices were listed in URLs — units of real value.  The URL did not actually exist.  But the illusion of stability quickly resulted in actual stability.  Public confidence rose with the URL.  Fears subsided.  When the plan seemed to be widely accepted, the existing Brazilian currency was withdrawn and the imaginary currency was actually implemented.

They called it the real.  The word means more or less the same in Brazilian Portuguese as it does in English, by the way.

The “real” is what is stable, what actually exists, what will be substantially the same tomorrow as it was today.  Thus when people are encouraged to live in “the real world,” typically they mean accepting inconvenient yet unchanging and unchangeable realities that pertain to life on planet earth.  We would like to see good triumph over evil, hard work rewarded, etc.  “But we live in the real world,” they say. “You can’t expect that.”

I could not disagree more.  That’s because my idea of “the real world” is very different.

People think God and the things of God are not “real” because we don’t see them.  They think ultimate victory over evil is unattainable because we don’t see it.   But faith is as good as sight for Christians (Hebrews 11:1).  And faith empowers us to mimic the words of Psalm 56:4, no matter how afflicted we may be here on earth — “In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can mere man do to me?”

Righteousness triumphs.  Evil is thwarted.  That’s what happens in the real world.