Regarding financial blessing, God has given us these wise words:
Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
Being tight financially can be challenging. I remember well in our early years of marriage that there never seemed to be any relief from the struggle, and sometimes there was also embarrassment and shame.
At first I complained, whined even, and I’m certain I could have been compared with those whiners who were forced to wander through the desert so many, many years ago.
But I discovered very early-on just what a teacher financial challenges can be, if we allow them to do their good work in us.
They teach us that struggling is good.
As I understand it, the worst thing you can do for a baby chick is to help it escape from its shell. There is something about the fight to get free that strengthens the tiny creature for survival.
Even human birth is laborious and painful, but it is the work and the discomfort that solidify the mother/child relationship and create a bond that it is almost possible to break!
If we have to trust God and each other for the supply of daily bread, we are strengthened and seasoned as we see that the very worst of our imaginings never come to pass, and even when things do seem to be worse, there is grace to help us through.
Couples and families have testified over and over that the times they had very little were some of the best times of their lives, as they learned to rely on each other and enjoy the more simple pleasures such as sitting around and sharing stories or working together. Sometimes the worst times are also the sweetest, as God’s grace is more plainly revealed when the veneer of life is peeled away.
They teach us that true satisfaction comes from hard work.
If you want to see a young person take care of a car, make him earn it. Let him have to pedal a bicycle back and forth to work for a while as he saves his money, and then, when he is ready with the cash, watch him take the best rattle-trap he can afford, with hardly a decent scrap of paint on the whole body, to the car wash and buff it out until it shines!
On the other hand, if you want to see a young person trash a car, just hand it to him. Don’t let him earn it, but make it seem as though it is a “right” and let him mock his dad when he is asked to clean it or gas it up or actually pay to get the oil in it changed.
Work is not evil; it is a blessing. It keeps us from going to rack and ruin by chasing our tails in a circle of never-ending self-gratification.
People who don’t have to work for what they have are some of the most miserable on the planet. They complain more loudly than the man who returns from work after a back-breaking day, or the woman who finally sits down after hours of canning or cooking to make sure her family will eat well.
Only the rich have needs for analysts, fat farms and sleep-aids. Those that fill every moment of the day with good, honest labor are too busy to be self-engrossed; they sleep peacefully and don’t worry about silly things like how they fit into their clothes.
They show us God’s intimate interest in our lives.
Even if we can believe in the big things, such as salvation and heaven, it is sometimes hard to imagine that such a great God is interested and available to us as we walk with humble, clay feet.
How many times have I simply had a thought of a need that was miraculously supplied without any effort on my part–such as the other day when a neighbor who was moving rolled an almost new upright freezer out to the curb with a sign that said, “FREE”–we were all so excited–and now it is filled with frozen foods that have helped us get through lean times.
Or how many times have I told Him that the children needed socks, or birthday presents, and there would be a sale or somehow we would just have enough to cover the expense?
As God has been able to meet my needs, even my wants, in the small details of life I have been able to experience first-hand His intimate knowledge of even my most personal thoughts, which has strengthened my faith and my resolve to know Him more fully.
They teach us humility.
It’s very hard to look on “the poor” as though we are allergic when, in actuality, we have become “the poor.” It’s at that moment that you are filling out the form for aid that you realize you are one of “them,” and that “they ” really are simply people that live good lives and love their families, just like you do.
A few decades before the Great Depression there was a lie that was being circulated that had been based on Darwin’s theory of evolution; namely, that people were rich because they were the most fit to be rich, and that the poor were destined to die in their poverty because they simply were not the “fittest.”
Then the Crash happened, and folks with mink coats who had been rubbing shoulders with senators found themselves standing in bread lines. So much for the vain philosophies of man!
They teach us contentment.
When you don’t have the option of going out and buying the latest and greatest, you have to learn to enjoy what you already have. Amazingly, this is the stuff true happiness is made of.
Shopping and gathering are often necessary, especially if we want to eat and don’t like going around in the n*de! But there is a limit to what we are actually able to take in at once. For instance, we can only drive one care at a time, sleep in one bed, wear one set of clothes, etc.
Does a row of 30 pairs of shoes per person actually add to our lives, or is the time and space necessary for their storage a drain?
There was actually a time in our not-so-distant past when a prosperous person only owned two complete outfits; one for every day and one for Sundays. People did not even have clothes closets, but hung all of their personal belongings on pegs along the wall. A person may have received nothing but a poem for a birthday present, and only one item at Christmas.
And yet, joy and happiness were not in short supply, at least according to what we read in literature of the times. When one has fewer things, one’s enjoyment of each one increases.
But godliness with contentment is a great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
They increase our inventiveness.
A prefabricated life leaves very little room for creativity. If all we need to do is press the button to complete the order, then we are duped into believing that life is a meaningless series of purchases.
But if it is possible to take raw materials, things we have in our hands, and operate as the creative beings we are in the image and likeness of God, then there is spark and energy being released to give us direction and meaning.
This is what all good women have known over the millenia; when we come against the impossible, when we have a house to run with only the most basic of basics, we rise to meet the occasion and polish those basics into useful, beautiful richness.
They teach us how to better handle money.
As we come closer to the consequences of overspending and overextending, we begin to see the value of being careful with our funds. We take time to evaluate before we buy, and then we take care of what we own.
We also seek to learn more about how money works, and we learn to negotiate and how to make money instead of simply spending it.
They increase our faith.
When we have all of our needs met, there is no need to believe, no need to ask or seek or knock. But when we must rely on God for our daily provision, we become like the Israelites as they passed their 40 year sentence in the desert; we learn that He is trustworthy, and in this way we begin to see that even the giants in our lives are no match for Him!
They teach us how to be generous.
After we have experienced the feeling of being pinched, it is much easier to have compassion on others. Once we have done away with our own silly pride and learned that God will take care of our needs as long as we believe, it is much easier to release funds and goods to others who are less fortunate.