Peace in the Midst of Financial Woes
by Grace Fox
Several months ago I interviewed a former police officer and father of four young children who’d lived a lifestyle beyond his financial means. Fear overwhelmed him as his debt increased. Rather than admit his situation and seek help, he made a decision that nearly destroyed him—he donned a ski mask and robbed three banks.
This man’s problem-solving techniques leave something to be desired, but I can relate to his fear over financial woes. My husband left his civil engineering career in 1996 when God directed us into Christian camping ministry. That meant giving up the income, putting up our home for sale, and moving to an island on Canada’s west coast.
“This sounds like a wonderful adventure!” friends said. “We envy you.” Their attitude changed upon learning we’d receive no salary. Instead, we’d live off savings until we could establish a team of financial supporters who would donate toward our ministry on a regular basis.
“You must be kidding,” said one.
“I’d need brain surgery or a heart transplant before I’d do that,” said another.
We forged ahead despite their comments and our fears. That’s when the real adventure began.
Our house sat occupied by renters for more than two years. During that time, the real estate market collapsed. We drastically reduced our asking price and kissed our hoped-for retirement fund goodbye. A buyer finally came along, but then the septic tank collapsed. The bank refused the buyer’s loan request until repairs were complete—at our cost. Cha-ching!
Building a donor base took more time than expected. We watched our savings account dwindle. Money grew scarce, and I grew scared. A month-long national postal strike hit, leaving our supporters’ checks stranded in the mail system. My fear escalated. As a mother of three growing kids, I seriously wondered how far macaroni could stretch. The day came when I had no idea what to make for lunch, other than bread. That was the day I experienced God in an unforgettable way.
A family from a nearby town drove into our yard in the late afternoon and immediately began carrying grocery sacks from their van into our house. “What’s this?” I asked, scarcely able to believe what I was seeing.
“We sensed God telling us to bring food,” said the husband.
That moment is forever etched in my memory. My understanding of God’s character and ability to provide took a quantum leap, and my fear over financial matters began to dissipate. Nearly 15 years have passed since that day, and I can honestly say that, over time, fear has given way to peace in spite of uncertain economic times.
Moving from Fear to Freedom
So how can we move from fear to freedom in the realm of financial matters? The answer, I believe, lies neither in working longer hours to earn more money, nor in receiving a big bonus. Rather, it lies in possessing a true understanding of who God is. He calls Himself Jehovah Jireh, a name that means roughly, “God will see to it.” It carries the connotation of provision—He will see to it that our needs are met.
Providing for His children is a responsibility that flows from who God is. In other words, seeing to it that our needs are met isn’t simply something He does when He feels like it. He does so because doing otherwise would be contrary to His nature. We might not have as much as we think we need, but He’ll always give us what He knows is right for us.
Another aspect of God’s character is love. Can we trust the One who loves us enough to send His Son to die in our place on the cross? Of course. If we can trust Him with our eternal future, we can certainly trust Him with our temporal finances.
That sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it feels anything but easy when job lay-offs strike or retirement funds tank as living costs escalate. Here are six practical strategies to exercise when financial woes cause you to feel afraid:
· Analyze spending habits and make necessary changes. Be content with less. Consolidate loans. Stick to a budget. Live below your means.
· Focus on the truth. What does it say? “So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Matthew 6:31-33).
· Maintain a generous heart. We tend to clutch our wallets when money’s tight, but resist that temptation. Be a generous giver even when it hurts, and trust God to make up the difference.
· Recall God’s faithfulness. He commanded the Israelites to remember His past provisions for them because He knew that doing so would encourage them to trust Him for present and future needs. I do this regularly, and I find it to be very helpful as I look at the future with its unknowns.
· Tell God what you need. Tell Him again and again and again if necessary. Ensure your motives and intentions are right.
· Give thanks. It’s not easy in tough times, but it’s imperative because it changes our perspective. Thank God for His sovereignty and for His endless supply of love for you, and a peace that passes understanding will replace your fear.
When fear taunts us, let’s remember this: God loves us and promises to provide for our needs. Let’s take whatever practical steps needed to alleviate our financial stress, pray, give thanks, and choose to trust. There’s no need to panic and resort to drastic measures when Jehovah Jireh watches over His children.
Grace Fox is a national co-director for International Messengers Canada (www.im-canada.ca), a popular speaker at women’s events worldwide, and the author of four books including Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation (Harvest House). She lives in British Columbia. www.gracefox.com