“…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:11-13
I heard a story the other day about a woman who makes an obscene amount of money. She teaches workshops on how to be as successful as she is, and people come from all over the country to learn her secrets. The instantly incredulous side of me raised the immediate question of what in the world do you even DO with that kind of money?! You’re literally set for life.
If you were making what she was making every 30 days…you would never have to worry about finances ever again! You could buy the best house (or houses…everywhere). Drive the best cars (or private jets). Wear the best clothes. Travel anywhere. Never have to worry about a budget or having to sacrifice a want for a need. It’s all right there in your bank account. The key to happiness. The “American Dream” realized! You haven’t “made it” until you’re just like this woman!
Ok. I’ll stop being sarcastic now and tell you how I really feel.
I grew up in a wonderful home, full of love and cherished memories. My dad was the most amazing person I will probably ever meet, and my mom is an incredible woman of strength and courage and defying the odds- a beautiful example to me. I have four strong-willed, driven, independent and God-fearing siblings, each one so unique and awesome. We have had various loyal and loving dogs over the years; the current being a black lab/husky mix named Titan. Childhood was spent on over 40-acres of God’s playground, with adventuring and exploring in the summers and sledding and snow fort-building in the winters.
My parents owned a small business, and worked hard to provide for all of us, every single day. Some years were harder than others. We have faced more challenges as a family than I can list in a blog post. But we were taught the value of hard work and the importance of obedience over abundance. We were taught that love and family is more important than a number in your bank account or the title you place on a business card or sign off with on your emails. We were shown the example of faith in action- trusting God in all things, knowing HE is the provider and the giver of what we need. And that no matter what, every single one of us will die when it’s our time, and your money, your social status, your titles, your stuff…it doesn’t come with you.
Tirzah Magazine just published a devotional titled “Consistent God, Consistent Faith“. I encourage you to click on the link and read the passages, telling the story of an Old Testament prophet who truly trusted God to come through- in ALL things. To raise the dead. To feed a family when there was no food. To protect the prophet himself from the evil that was threatening to put a stop to his ministry. To live sometimes without a roof over his head but to be 100% provided for by a faithful, loving, true-to-His-Word God. And, the prophet’s faith remained unshaken by the circumstances of this world.
I have friends who are missionaries to other countries, who have had moments of not knowing where their next meal was coming from or where they would live…but believing that God will provide. My own family praying together for provision many times, and believing it daily for myself. I’ve seen anonymous checks come in the mail for the exact amount we were praying for to cover an expense. Joy in healing from sickness or the blessing in the hardest situations that didn’t have an easy answer.
I’ve seen God show up, on time, every time- not a minute too soon, or too late.
And how quickly we forget this Truth each time a need arises.
The Bible is full of impossible situations solved by a very possible God. Miracles and blessings because people chose to put their trust in the One who promised He would come through for them- every. single. time. And here’s the thing; when you put your trust in Him, when you give Him control of your life, He NEVER promises an easy, money-filled, sickness-free, problem-less existence (and seriously, if anyone ever tries to preach this garbage, prosperity-life gospel to you…RUN). Instead, He promises strength for the hard things. Guidance even in the darkest times. Every need, always fulfilled. Giving us our daily bread– which literally means, provision for TODAY. He will give you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it, and you can trust that if “His eye is on the sparrow”, then He most certainly has everything taken care of for you as well.
I think He allows us to experience these things so that He can prove Himself faithful- not just in the past, but in our every day. So that we can come to the very end of our finite selves and realize that we are truly nothing without His love and mercy. We deceive ourselves thinking we are self-sufficient, without need for God. We need Him more than we could ever imagine.
There is nothing wrong with being wise stewards of what He has entrusted to us. Of course you should have goals and a vision for your life. Are you in a time of plenty? Learn the art of saving for the rainy days, because they will come. Finding yourself with more than you expected? Praise God, and turn it around to bless others. But the focus in this life should never be about making money, or quicker and better schemes to add more to your pile. Success and self-sufficiency should never be the end-goal. All of this can be gone in an instant. This country’s financial system could crash without warning (as history clearly shows, over and over again). You can lose your job or your business. A natural disaster could wipe out everything you own.
Absolutely nothing is guaranteed except where you plan to spend eternity after this life. Your soul is the only thing you will take with you from this earth.
So, next time you’re tempted to envy someone with that bigger house, bigger bank account, better position of work, nicer clothes…or the next time you think you’re entitled or better than others for what you DO have…just remember, it’s all “stuff”. Material stuff that can be gone in the blink of an eye.
The happiest people are ones who have learned the secret to contentment. And I can promise you, it doesn’t come from a paycheck. It comes from letting God be your everything, finding peace and resting in the knowledge that He alone holds tomorrow.