All of these things have a common thread that makes my heart jump into my throat: the potential to create a financial crisis.
Money woes cause me to panic more quickly than anything else in life (with the possible exception of illness). The combination of an empty bank account and an impending bill is enough to cause my heart to pound in anxiety. I'm guessing I'm not alone when it comes to being terrified by money issues.
Jon and I have gone through layoffs, unemployment, and under-employment, all of which bring various levels of fear. I wish I could tell you that I've handled each situation with grace and poise. I wish I could say that I fully trusted in God's provision. I wish I could claim to have learned to put my complete faith in the Lord as a result of these trials.
But I can't.
I am very human, and lack of money quickly reveals how fickle I am. So, while I can't say, "here are 3 things I learned as a result of an empty checking account," I can offer three things I wish I had done when each of those trials came and what I hope I will remember to do when the next wave of financial turbulence hits.
Remember that God owns it all
One of the biggest mistakes I've made during financial crises is forgetting that the money was never mine to begin with. How much better would it have been if I'd stopped to consider that it all belonged to God, that I was merely a steward of what He'd given me, and that He was free to move His funds around as He saw fit?
If you're facing a difficult financial situation, stop to consider that the Lord owns everything. The only way to gracefully endure fiscal hardship is to view "your" money as it actually is: God's.
View A Financial Crisis As An Opportunity to See God Work
Instead of freaking out about your financial crisis like I've done, try to calmly view each money crunch as an opportunity to see God work. Everything God does is for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28, Isaiah 48:10). I have a very hard time seeing (at first) how God could be glorified and how things are for my good. I tend to see the crisis and not Christ.
It might not be immediately obvious to us how He is being glorified or how we're benefiting from a situation, but since the Bible promises us these things, we can trust that they're happening. If you can see a tough situation as a front-row seat to God's handiwork, it will be much easier to accept the cup that the Lord has given you.
Write Down Verses on God's Promise to Provide
God has graciously promised to provide for all our needs (see Philippians 4:19), but it's easy to get so caught up in the fear of the situation that we forget those promises. Grab your Bible, a pen, and a sheet of paper and begin jotting down verses about the Lord's provision. Don't forget Old Testament stories of God's protection and provision. Notice how, over and over again, the Lord graciously cares for His people.
A word of caution is in order here, however: God definitely promises to provide, and He has proven His provision in Scripture over and over again. But He doesn't promise to provide in the way we think or expect Him to, nor does He act according to our timetable. He also doesn't say that we won't suffer while we're waiting for Him to act (otherwise, this blog would be obsolete!). The Bible promises us that suffering will come (James 1).
Remembering that God owns it all, viewing a financial crisis as an opportunity to see God work, and writing down God's promises to provide won't make your current trial go away. But doing these things will give you a better mindset for handling the situation in a way that brings honor to the Lord. There often isn't much you can do during a financial crisis other than waiting, but these three things are action steps that you can do today, right now.
Let's praise Him while we wait!
Your turn: Have you gone through financial hardships? What has been the biggest help to you? Share with us in the comments!