Tracking down a PS5 or an Xbox Series S/X has become the holy grail of video games… they are almost mythical in their existence at this point. When we think about video games, we prefer to think of the FUN part… larger than life characters, amazing narratives that pull us into events of global impact, and addictive gameplay that keeps us coming back for more. And as the hardware launches of the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X drew closer, fans of each upcoming system eagerly awaited the enhanced power, improved graphics, and new games that were finally on their way. Even the global production and shipping challenges of 2020 did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of these new console releases, and with more people spending even MORE time indoors the demand for PC and console gaming reached a crescendo… a crescendo that quickly became an outcry of pain, frustration, and disappointment. And the reason was something incredibly small… something that had been taken for granted in not only gaming but ALL of our sources of technology… a global semiconductor shortage that threatens not only our ability to enjoy video games for the foreseeable future, but a plethora of other devices as well.
The funny thing is that this event is sort of the perfect storm… these little chips power everything from our gaming systems, to laptops, to smartphones, to smart cars… almost all of the technologies that have grown in demand over the last several years are placing massive demands on the very small group of manufacturers who are creating these semiconductors. As the world of video games prepared to make it’s leap forward into the next generation, the current consoles wound down their production, which in turn caused game developers to begin creating games for the next platforms… platforms that are in scarce supply. We have already made the leap forward into the next generation, but the door is too narrow for most of us to actually pass through to the other side. Last week even Nintendo stated that this semiconductor shortage is going to impact production of their existing Nintendo Switch hardware, making the potential of the unannounced but highly anticipated “Switch Pro” even more difficult to produce. So to summarize, the previous consoles are no longer in production, the current generation of consoles are trapped between a rock and a hard place, and game developers have already shifted into making games for devices that are in exceptionally limited supply. Semiconductor chips are in high demand from industries that have more critical need than video game consoles, and… hold on… let me just take a breath. Deep breath… deep breath… serenity now… serenity now.
Considering the challenges of the world around us at this time, the needs of a specific chip to enable us to enjoy our video game pastime seems to be a small complaint compared to the battles going on all in the lives of those around us each and every day. But the reason we PLAY games is to make the frustrations and challenges of our real world a little more palatable… to bring us joy when times are tough, to connect us to others virtually when we can’t see them physically, and to experience adventures that are difficult or impossible any other way. Our “real world” problems have found a way to impact our “virtual worlds” in a way that just seems to compound the challenges we are already facing… it seems to be insult to injury, honestly. In a stunning twist of fate, during this time period in which people are spending more time indoors, working from home, and connecting with others through their smartphones, the critical component to all of those pursuits has almost completely dried up. The one thing we thought we could turn to for a little peace amidst all of this chaos has found a way to become snake-bit by forces very few predicted… and those who had foreseen this exact predicament were ignored until it was too late.
The truth is that many of us face identical challenges in our everyday lives in a very similar fashion, and we don’t even realize it. We, like many companies in this semiconductor shortage, are trying to pull our strength from sources of limited supply. Whether it is our coffee in the morning, the support of friends and loved ones throughout our day, scrolling on our phones during our downtime for a meme to make us laugh, or our enjoyment of television and video games to make a long day a little less dreary… all of these sources are FINITE. They eventually reach their maximum output… the coffee pot runs empty, nobody is answering our calls/texts, all of the memes are ones you have seen before, and you have already watched this episode of Chopped. TWICE. And in a similar twist of fate, these things that previously made life easier can suddenly begin to DRAIN us of our limited remaining energy. The text messages on our phone are full of bad news about loved ones who are currently sick… scrolling through social media stresses us out as we see the worst parts of humanity being exposed… the television is full of tragedies and heart-breaking losses that only add to our burden, and when we finally hit the pillow at the end of the night our restless thoughts take even this brief moment of peace away from us.
Exponentially compounded problems is not a new concept… as a matter of fact Christ explained this exact predicament in Matthew 12…
Matthew 12:43-45 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
In our world today depression is on the rise, anxiety is at an all-time high, and if most of us are being honest with ourselves we are rapidly approaching the boiling point on our stress almost every single day. And the truth that Christ was explaining through this example is that when we are at our most empty place… the place where we THINK we have it together but are one knock on the door or phone call away from being overcome… the enemy doesn’t come back alone. He brings SEVEN times the stress… SEVEN times the problems… SEVEN times the anxiety… SEVEN times the pain. When we are at our weakest point the enemy doesn’t play fair… he completely stacks the deck when we are in the worst possible position to absorb another hit.
Regardless of our status as a believer or non-believer in Christ, the rain is going to fall (Matthew 5:45), and the enemy is going to attack (Matthew 7:24-27). We are GUARANTEED to have problems in this world (John 16:33). Our enemy has a very simple goal… to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). If you feel like your joy is being stolen, your dreams are being killed, and your peace is being destroyed… you are not alone. And you are not necessarily doing anything wrong to deserve these battles… you are simply under attack from an enemy that is LITERALLY hell-bent on your destruction. We cannot prevent the attack… but we CAN insure that the enemy doesn’t have an empty vessel to return to. And if the enemy brings SEVEN more adversaries with them to press the attack, we must have Someone on our side more powerful to endure and repel his attack (Matthew 12:22-32).
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Regardless of a global pandemic, a shipping crisis, or all of the other factors that have went into this semiconductor shortage, it was inevitable. The question is what are we going to do to endure this moment in time and not only survive it, but rise above it. And in our real world situations, as the floodgates open to make an already challenging situation worse, we have one and only one choice to make… and it is a choice we must make DAILY. Even Christ didn’t run off the devil after repelling one of his attacks… Jesus Himself had to face that “boss fight” in THREE different modes before satan finally took flight (Matthew 4:1-11). Talk about exponentially increasing difficulty!
So don’t be surprised if the problems get worse, the challenge grows, and the enemy doubles down on the pressure. And don’t lose heart and let the enemy steal your peace and joy through the storm you are enduring. There IS a place of rest for us… and it is not in a cup of coffee, a Netflix binge, or even in a video game level. Those are temporary diversions at BEST, and we will realize as soon as the cup is empty or the screen goes to the credits that our house is STILL empty and the enemy is STILL knocking at the door… and while he was waiting he invited some friends. There remains one path to having peace through the storm… and it is filling our hearts, minds, and souls with Jesus. Take a moment today to stop… to breathe… and to accept that these challenges are out of your ability to influence or control. You cannot stop the rainwaters and the flood from hitting the house… but you CAN choose the foundation the house is built on and who you are locked inside with. Your enemy may be coming at you with SEVEN times that nightmares you feel you are prepared to take on… but we serve a Master who can drop them all to their knees at the mention of His name.
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