Money seems to be a common topic in many conversations in America today. Our economy is hurting and therefore many people are financially hurting as well.
As Christians we know that God is our source of security, not the economy. Nevertheless, many Christians have found that their finances have also been adversely affected as a byproduct of the negative economy. So how do we trust God in the midst of pay cuts, layoffs, rising bills, and declining home values in our own lives? How do we keep our faith strong in the midst of financial trouble? Here are a few ways God shows us in His Word to keep our faith strong.
Watch Your Focus
The biggest thing that has helped me in recent times of financial trouble is focusing on the right thing, which is not the circumstances, but rather God and what He’s doing in me. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
I’ve come to realize that our circumstances are temporary, but our faith and trust in God is eternal. I’ve seen income both grow and shrink in my family over the past few years, and I’ve come to realize that I can’t bank on that income -- God is the only thing that really stays constant.
I’ve also realized that I haven’t really let my faith grow during previous times of financial trouble, as evidenced by the fact that I worry every time the income goes down again. This time, I’ve decided to focus on how our current situation can help me grow closer to God because that is all that really matters. After all, God knew this would happen and He knows when it will be over. And even though I don’t know when it will be over, whenever that is, I want to be stronger in faith and closer to God as a result of the situation.
Once we switch our focus to what really matters, then the temporary situation doesn’t seem all that bad because we realize it’s just money.
Have a Joyful Attitude
If we let our circumstances put us in a rotten mood, we are no fun to be around! When I recently found out about a large financial setback in my family, I turned into a huge sourpuss! I was sad and depressed, and I wanted to eat lots of ice cream. Not only was I not fun to be around, but I brought my husband down too. I was so sad that I didn’t even want to read my Bible because I didn’t want to feel better. I wanted to wallow in my sorrow (ever been there??)
But the morning after I learned of the setback, I decided I should read my Bible because pity parties get old after a while. The chapter I happened to be reading that day was Philippians 4, which was just what I needed. At the beginning of the chapter I read verse 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” God might as well have come down from heaven and written that for me personally that day! That verse not only lifted my mood, but helped me apply these next few points.
No matter what we have, it’s so easy to complain about what we don’t have. If we would just stop focusing so much on what we don’t have, we can see the blessings of all that we do have, like family, friends, church, and even the physical things that God has previously blessed us with. Paul reminds us in Philippians that prayer with Thanksgiving is the key to eliminating our worry and anxiety. “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace which transcends all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6.
Don’t stop giving!
When we aren’t thankful for what we have, often times we’ll stop giving to our church and other charities when money is tight. In reality, generosity is what opens up our lives for God’s blessings. I once heard a pastor say that if God can get money through you, he’ll get it to you. As Christians, we are blessed to be a blessing, but if we hoard all the money we have because we’re afraid that we don’t have enough, then we aren’t a blessing.
Our church has recently been teaching on generosity and how difficult that is when we feel like we don’t have enough material resources. Our pastor showed us a website where you type in your income and it will show you how rich you are compared to the rest of the world: www.globalrichlist.com. The minimum wage in our area ranked in the 11th percentile of the richest people in the world. When we realize just how wealthy we are in comparison to the rest of the world, how can we hold back from giving to others?
Do What You Can and Trust God to do the Rest
Having faith that God will supply our needs is extremely important, but God never promised to supply our wants exactly when we want them. Just because God will provide during a time when money is scarce, doesn’t mean we should spend money the same way we did when money was plentiful.
Beyond believing for increase, there are practical things we can do as well. When money is tight in our family, we cut back on eating out and buying extra clothes and electronics that we don’t need. We get creative and find more inexpensive ways to have fun and enjoy life. If things get really tight you can cancel cable or magazine subscriptions or other monthly costs that aren’t necessary. These cutbacks will help the money you do have go further and maybe even give you more quality time to spend with your family.
God is full of wisdom and He wants to give that wisdom to us (James 1:5), but we need to be sure to listen to God’s wisdom and heed what He says to improve our financial situation. God may provide a new job for you, but most likely He won’t drop it in your lap while you’re watching TV. We need to do the work of looking for jobs, sending out resumes, putting forth effort and on God’s end, He’ll give us favor, but we have to make the first step.
Don’t Make Excuses
God doesn’t make excuses, so you shouldn’t either. When told that God will provide for us, sometimes we respond with, “Yeah, but...” God will always trump our excuses (nothing beats “Yeah, but the cross”).
I was talking with a friend recently who had just found out she was going to be laid off. I reminded her that God had been there for her in the past and had never let her down and this wouldn’t be any different. She responded by saying “Yeah, but this is a big thing.” I responded (with sarcasm), “Oh yeah, you’re right. This is too big for God. He made the world in six days, but he won’t be able to provide for you in this situation.” Deep down she knows God is big enough for her situation, but she let her worry come out in her words.
Many Christians really do believe that their situation is too hard for God, or that He doesn’t want to help them. In Matthew 8:2-3 a man with leprosy asked Jesus to heal him if he was willing. He knew Jesus was able, but he wasn’t sure if he was willing. Jesus told him he was willing, and he healed the man. If Jesus wasn’t willing to help us with all our needs, He wouldn’t have died on the cross for us.
I don't share these principles to give you pat answers to life's problems. I have had to apply all these principles in my life recently due to a job layoff for me and a large pay cut for my husband. I know what it’s like to be concerned about the situation and to worry, but I’ve also learned that what God says in His word is truth. And His truth is more important than how I feel or what the circumstances say.
Paul said he learned how to be content whether he had plenty of money and resources, or whether money was in short supply. He learned that by relying on God’s strength (Philippians 4:11-13). There will be times of excess and times of need in our lives and since we can’t take money and possessions with us when we go to heaven, the only thing we have to carry through this life and into the next is our faith in and relationship with God. Beyond that, remember that God promises to not only supply our every need, but to do so liberally (Philippians 4:19).