Tough times force us to ask some deep questions. Whether you believe in God or not, you’ve got to at least admit that you don’t have all the answers. We need guidance and hope that’s bigger than ourselves.
Years ago, my boys misplaced the remote control for the TV, and they started to panic! They thought that the TV could not be turned on without the remote. I chuckled at this, and later, it hit me: We often have the same response when it comes to faith. We can misplace it or forget that we even have it.
Faith is essential at all times, but it’s really important to rely on faith during difficult and trying times. Faith reminds us that God’s in control, and that we need to rely on Him to see us through, even when the path ahead is dark and unsteady. He’s steady, and He’s ready, willing and able to sustain us through anything.
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I’ve been hearing so many heartbreaking stories during the coronavirus pandemic. The best thing I can do is point you to the deepest source of wisdom and hope that I know: God’s Word. What does the Bible have to say about economic hardship? Here are five principles for trusting God with your money.
1. Take your fear and anxiety to God—He can handle it.
All of us are fighting fear these days. Maybe you feel buried by anxiety from the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Will my loved ones get sick? How will I make ends meet after losing my job? Will the economy ever recover? Some of us entertain those thoughts and start to spiral, and others of us take the ostrich approach—burying our heads in the sand and waiting until it’s over!
But there’s a third way to deal with fear, and it’s the best one: Hand off your anxieties to God.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear. Psalm 46:1–2 (NIV)
The first thing we need to get straight is this: God cares deeply about our suffering, and He invites us to cast our burdens on Him (1 Peter 5:7). Did you catch that? God’s not far away, kicking His feet up on some heavenly footstool, shaking his head, and hoping that it works out for us. He’s near to those who are broken and confused. He wants to take your anxiety from you. The question is, are you allowing Him to lift your burden?
You can trade your fears for God’s peace if you’re willing to lay out your requests to Him (Philippians 4:6–7). And believe me, His peace is powerful! It’s the only things that will truly loosen your tight chest when you feel like you can’t take another breath. Instead of white knuckling your way through your anxiety and playing out millions of scenarios in your mind, let it go, lay your requests before God, and feel Him lift that heavy load off your back.
Take your worries to God. He’s big enough to handle them.
2. Trust God with your money—He owns it anyway.
There’s an old-timey word that I want to introduce to you: stewardship. It basically means that you’re entrusted to take care of something that belongs to someone else. Managing a team of people or resources at work is an example of stewardship because you’ve got someone to answer to.
Can you see where I’m headed with this? Yep—you’re a steward of the money and resources that God’s given you. Now, of course, you must take personal responsibility and work hard. In fact, because God has trusted you with a job, you better take it seriously! But at the end of the day, your ability to earn money and build wealth is given to you by God, as we see in this verse:
You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. Deuteronomy 8:17–18 (NIV)
You can trust God with the money He’s given you because He’s the real owner of everything under the sun! He’s the ultimate source of our security. As 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV) says, you shouldn’t put your hope in wealth, but instead, “hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
3. Recognize your dependence on God.
Okay, people. So, if God made and owns everything (John 1:1–3), and He entrusts us as His stewards, then that means we can depend on Him to provide. So, we have to ask ourselves, Do I believe that He is good? Will He take care of me?
Let’s take a look at this passage from Matthew that Jesus taught His followers in one of His most famous sermons.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life. . . Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:25–27 (NIV)
I want you to do something. Look outside your window. Hopefully you live in a place where you can see birds and hear them singing. They seem to be doing okay, don’t they? Not a single one of those birds is watching in fear as the Dow plummets. None of them are stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I know this sounds ridiculous, but hear me on this: They’re just birds! You’re a human being who was carefully made in the divine image of God. Don’t you think He cares more about you than the sparrows and the blue jays?
God isn’t worried about supply chains and economic downturns. He feeds the birds day in and day out, and you better believe He’ll take care of his children too.
4. Practice contentment in both good and bad times.
Have you ever heard the old joke “You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse?” You can’t take your stuff with you when you go! It’s tempting to work like crazy to keep up with the Joneses, piling up stuff, and chasing down the next purchase. The Bible warns us against the temptation to hoard our wealth, but instead encourages us to be “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21 NIV). This means that we use everything in our life (including our money) to honor God.
Trusting God’s provision leads to contentment—being grateful for what we have. This idea appears all over the Bible. Take this verse in Job, for example: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:21 (NIV)
When you’ve placed your trust in God and what He provides, you’re free to be content with what you have right now. It helps you loosen your grip on your assets. Contentment is an incredibly important habit to practice when times are good and when times are bad. Gratitude changes your perspective because it shifts your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have. I like to put it this way: “It’s hard to be hateful when you’re grateful.”
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 4:12–13 (NIV)
A relationship with God sets you free from worry and comparison. You just take it one day at a time. In times of abundance and crisis, contentment is the key to experiencing joy and gratitude.
5. Be generous to others just as God has been to you.
This is where it gets fun. If you’re applying the first four principles we’ve talked about, then you’ll be free to enjoy your money without being controlled by it. You’ll also recognize God’s outrageous generosity more and more, and you’ll want to treat others the same way!
If you have kids, I want you to think back to a time when you had a special gift for them. Maybe you surprised them with a puppy on Christmas morning, or you finally bought them their first iPhone. Most parents—even though we’re not perfect—want to do their best and take care of their children. We find great joy in seeing their faces light up when they get something they’ve been asking for. And you know what? God has the same generous heart toward his children! He gives good things to those who ask for them, and he delights in our joy (Matthew 7:9–12).
Generosity is contagious. When you’ve received something good, it’s a natural response to overflow onto others. Being generous is a powerful antidote to fear because it forces you to get your focus off of your own needs. It forces you to put your money where your mouth is.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. . . Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16–18 (NIV)
God notices when we give, and He’s pleased by our generosity (Matthew 6:2–4). And if you’re short on cash, that’s okay. There are endless possibilities for how to be generous with your time, your talents and your friendship.
Does God Care About My Suffering?
Loss is painful. It’s real. We cannot make sense of all the evil in the world. And it’s a very human response to ask, Where’s God in all of this? Why doesn’t He do something?
But if you want to know where God is in the midst of suffering, all you have to do is picture Jesus on the cross. If you’re wondering why He doesn’t do something, then remember the work He accomplished to conquer death and bring us hope. My friends, He’s well acquainted with loss and pain. He took it upon himself to come to earth and share in all the same brokenness we experience. And because of the mission He accomplished, we can place our trust in Him and have hope that He can heal our diseases and restore our fortunes.
I’ve been walking with Him since I was eight years old, although I really got to know Him in my 20s. The Lord has been the most consistent thing in life, and I’m grateful for his love, grace, mercy and hope! Here’s my personal favorite Scripture to dwell on when things get tough:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
Even in the darkest moments, God promises to deliver his people, protect them, and ultimately, prosper them. We can trust that He will do the same for us. As my good friend Dave Ramsey says:
"Remember, there’s ultimately only one way to financial peace, and that’s to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus."
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