March 11, 2011

Trust In Numbers

Marybeth Whalen

 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”Psalm 20:7 (NIV) 

Devotion:
Recently my husband and I were discussing our ongoing efforts to build up our emergency fund. A series of setbacks that included car repairs, replacing an HVAC system and my husband’s six month unemployment had left little in our emergency savings. It seemed every time we got a little bit of money in, it went right back out. I voiced my frustration to my husband. “If we could just get a certain amount in there,” I said, “We wouldn’t have to worry anymore.”

The idea of not worrying appealed to me. I wanted something to stay the same. I wanted to be confident and stable. This all sounded like a good idea.

But that’s not what was happening. So what was God trying to teach me?

A few days later I was reading the story of Gideon, the man God called a mighty warrior even as he was hiding out, scared of his enemies. In Judges 7 God finally convinces Gideon to assemble an army of Israelites to face their enemy. I am sure Gideon was pleased and surprised when 32,000 men responded to his battle cry. I imagine the strength of their numbers was a comfort to this less than confident soldier.

And then God told him to cut the army down in size. Then cut it again. God cut the army’s numbers from 32,000 down to just 300. Contrast that with Judges 7:12, where the enemy troops are described as “thick as locusts.” I can only imagine what Gideon was feeling. He had to think that more was better, that surely having a large army to count on was a good idea.

As I read this passage I thought of another time a soldier wanted to know the numbers he was dealing with. First Chronicles 21:1 tells us that King David was enticed by Satan to count his men. He knew that if he could get David’s focus on the numbers instead of on God, he’d gain access to David’s thoughts and trust.

These two biblical examples were a good wakeup call. God was trying to teach me to stop trusting in numbers – specifically in bank account numbers. He was gently reminding me that—as good as an emergency fund is—I can really only trust in Him. I didn’t need to worry about my balance or my battlefield. I only had to believe He would supply all I need.

God calls us mighty, even as we are hiding out. God calls us powerful, even as our forces dwindle. God calls us wealthy, even as we are fretting about finances. God majors in the impossible. He can overpower terrible odds because He’s free to shine His light on our situation. Are your numbers looking grim? Let your lack invite His might.

Don’t trust in numbers that change like the tides. Trust in the unchanging God. Watch Him work against the odds. Just ask Gideon, who won a decisive victory with his 300 men. You can be victorious too, no matter what the numbers say.                                                                                                                                                                     

Dear Lord, my numbers don’t look good right now. The statistics are stacked against me. The account balance doesn’t make sense. I’m in the red. I feel like I’m facing impossible odds. And yet, today I feel a spark of hope. Please fan it into a flame of complete trust—not in numbers, but in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Living Financially Free: Hard Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Money and Your Marriageby Marybeth and Curt Whalen

From Financially Frantic to Financially Free (CD)by Marybeth Whalen

She Reads

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Application Steps: 
When you start to focus on the numbers recognize that as a trigger that it’s time to stop and pray, giving your situation to God. Do this as many times as it takes.

Reflections: 
Have I been trusting in numbers when God’s trying to get me to trust in Him? What numbers are comforting to me?

Power Verses:
2 Chronicles 21:8, “Then David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’” (NIV)

Judges 7:2, The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 20:1, “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.” (NIV)

© 2011 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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