When there are more expenses at the end of the month than money at hand, terrible feelings swirl. All kinds of thoughts and motivations manufacture terrible mixtures of miserable emotions.
You worry about the growing credit card debt and its massive interest rate, the collecting agencies calling, how the family will be fed, if the electricity might be cut off, and that there seems to be no solutions in the future. You are angry at yourself or your spouse for spending too much or not planning better. You are angry at God for allowing an unexpected budget buster to strike your family. You are embarrassed when a friend discovers your situation or you have to ask for help. You are ashamed that you have let your family down. You still want to put on a good front. You want to do what is right. Yet, you also want your stuff.
In addition to having these runaway attitudes and feelings of worry, anger, shame, and despair, Jesus declared that what is in our hearts will come out of our mouths. The downward spiral often continues with heated arguments flowing directly from the terrible discouragement within. Deep regret now joins those other feelings jumbled together in a heart after overreacting to a spouse in a conversation about money.
Where is there hope for someone with serious money problems?
Hope always begins by getting right thoughts about God into your thinking. So many Christians turn into practical atheists as they look into their wallets, bank accounts, and budgets. God is there too. He remains powerful, good, and faithful. He cares a lot about you and your money. He cares how you use your money. Thinking well about God will immediately help your heart.
Money isn’t the problem. God made all the resources that exist. He ultimately owns them all. He entrusts those resources to people to use for his sake. Obviously, many people are oblivious to God and use whatever resources they can grab in accord with their fancies. But sadly, even followers of Jesus don’t give enough thought to how they use their money. God uses your physical money in all kinds spiritual ways in your life. He tests you. He adds to your money and he takes it away. He shows you your heart when he shows you your bank statement.
After the people of Israel returned from exile in Babylon, they were given resources to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem. Instead they pocketed the cash and rebuilt their houses. Then their economy tumbled. This was from God. He put a leak in the people of Israel’s checkbooks (does that picture feel familiar?).
“Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes” (Hag. 1:5-6).
On another occasion God offered Israel the opportunity to put him to the test with their giving. He challenged them to give ten percent of their income to him, as he commanded in the Old Testament Law, and then to look up and watch money come back to them like rain.
“And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal 3:10-12).
Your money problems are complicated. You didn’t create your situation in a month and it will probably take more than a month to undo the troubles. Sometimes people need practical help from financial counselors. God has had many purposes in allowing all of the various financial ingredients to accumulate in your specific recipe––some of them that you have controlled but others you have not. Your heart has been revealed. Temptations have abounded.
The same God who is sovereign over the winds and the rains is in control of your money situation. He cares about you and your money a great deal. He is available to help you. Your help, however, starts with your heart. Surrender to him. Obey him. Trust him. You have every reason for hope, no matter how brutal your bills appear.
God may change your checkbook by adding an unexpected supply of money. He can do that. He owns it all and he is a generous God. “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine” (Ps 50:10-11).
Even if your messy money situation is your fault, he is gracious. He will forgive you. Perhaps he has used the pressure you are feeling to get your attention. Your heart has been consumed with stuff instead of him. Now that you see it, repent of it. He loves you very much. He will forgive.
God might have different dealings for you in your specific financial situation. He may not provide a quick fix. But, you can still have hope. He has made wonderful promises to provide for his children. After Jesus beautifully calls people to never worry, but to trust in the God who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies of the field, he said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33).
God loves you. He cares about your needs. He has the power to provide for you. He never breaks his word. Aim your heart at him and have hope. Even if your budget doesn’t immediately adjust, your heart can be transformed. Turn away from worry and begin to trust and obey the Lord. Seek him first in your heart and life, and watch what he will do. He will change you and he will provide what you need.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Ps 34:8-10).
By John Crotts