The phrase ‘catch-22’ is used to convey or mean a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions. At least that’s what Oxford dictionary says.
But I prefer to say that being in a ‘catch-22’ is kind of like being caught between a rock and a hard place. It seems that no matter what you do, there is always some sort of ‘catch’ or negative consequence. That’s what being in a ‘catch-22’ is like.
I bet that many of us have had experiences like that. Maybe you even feel that the past two years have constantly been like this. Maybe you feel that the continuing pandemic has generated many ‘catch-22’ situations for you and your family. Perhaps you have even had a nagging and annoying feeling for months that no matter what you do, there always seems to be a ‘catch’.
So what are we to do? Is it possible to break free of this?
Well, as we head into 2022, I believe that it is possible to not just break free of it, but to actually catch your 22!
In a different time, and in a different place, the Bible tells about a group of people that had to overcome a bit of a catch-22 challenge.
In the Old Testament we are told that the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great, after conquering Babylon passed a decree in the very first year of his reign allowing all of Babylon’s captives to return home. Furthermore, he has even encouraged nations to rebuild their temples and restore their gods. No returning group of exile could have been more delighted with their new-found political and religious freedom than the Jews. This meant that they could return to their beloved homeland (Jerusalem) and begin to rebuild their lives.
Zerubbabel, the living heir of David, has led the return, and his passion and desire was to see the Jewish Temple restored. But, for some reason, the foundational work of building the temple had come to a standstill. For some reason things began to stall.
Perhaps they stopped because they faced opposition from their neighbours. Houses were being attacked and families were being targeted while the rebuilding work was being done. This meant that choosing to be at the rebuilding site left your personal home and loved ones unprotected. That’s a bit of a ‘catch’.
Perhaps they also stopped because they realized that what they were rebuilding would never be what it once was. In other words, the current temple they were rebuilding would never be as glorious and would never compare to the one from Solomon’s day. So why bother?
This may have generated some thoughts like: Why are we doing this? Is anything really going to change? Things will never go back to what they were? What is the point and purpose of it all?
Ever been there?
But this is why we have reason to hope: God speaks to us in the midst of our ‘catch-22’s’
We probably don’t know all the reasons why the Jews stopped moving forward with their role in rebuilding the temple, but what we do know is in the midst of it, God sent a message.
Zechariah (whose name litterally means “Yahweh remembers”) was commissioned by God to speak a message of hope in the midst of their catch-22.
In a nutshell, scholars tells us that by way of a series of dreams and visions, God was reminding Israel that He is aware of their immediate context and need, and yet still actively working to accomplish His etermal purposes for them and the world.
Through Zechariah the people of God were reminded that when opposition, evil, calamity and chaos have done their worst, and when the forces of indifference and nostalgia have done all they can to suck the life right out of you … remember that the Lord, your God, Yahweh and His Messiah, always has and always will remain King of the Cosmos … no catch!
Now you may be asking, just how does a vision like that help someone find their way out of a tough situation?
The answer is simple: It help us to see things via new lens.
Here’s where I will end.
In the recent movie Dune (2021), an opening statement is broadcasted onto the screen. It says that ‘Dreams are messages from the deep’. I think that Zechariah and the Psalms would agree.
Psalm 42:7 says that ‘Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls’. This poetic language reflectsthat the psalmist had found himself in a place where where his soul was in deep need of God. In response, the psalmist calls out from his place of profound need for the unfathomable greatness of God. A deep need calls for a deep remedy.
I believe that the God of Israel is such a remedy, and He is able to answer and meet you no matter where you are or what you are facing, even if it looks like a train-wreck.
A friend of mine said that he saw an image online of a picture depicting what the year 2022 was going to be like. It was a picture of a train on fire coming down the tracks. If 2022 is going to be like that, then perhaps we really need to call out to a deep source even more!
So, together let’s look into 2022 with hope and faith believing that God still sees your needs and is working on your behalf to accomplish His eternal purposes in the world. Let’s choose to look towards Him in the midst of whatever ‘catch- 22’ situations we face and believe that He has a good plan that will work for you right here and right now.
Who knows, just maybe He has a message for you in the midst of it all.
In fact, I know He does.