Johnny Parker struggled financially throughout graduate school.
He told his wife things would get better after he finished his degree. A prestigious counseling job gave him the highest salary he had ever had to provide for their newborn son. Then just 6 months later, financial hardship caused the clinic to downsize.
“Gone was the salary, and my dreams shattered right along with it. I was angry and found myself wondering where God was in all of this. I was lost and felt like I was teetering on the edge of my faith,” writes Johnny in his book, Faith Like a Child. “I desperately wanted out of this trial.”
Wanting out of financial struggles is a common feeling today.
Even though the unemployment rate fell to 8.9% in February 2011, which is the best reading in 2 years, for many Americans this progress is too slow.
These are difficult times for many, and financial security seems hopeless. Yet the fact that the economy is changing is probably the only unwavering thing about it.
We look to money to solve our problems -- especially financial problems -- but God wants us to look to Him.
He uses money as a tool to help us grow, to test us, and to get our attention, according to financial expert and author Ron Blue. In his book, Master Your Money, Ron writes, “You need always to ask, ‘God, what do You want me to learn?’ not, ‘God why are You doing this to me?’”
Even Jesus talked more about money than heaven, because He knew it would be a struggle that reveals our heart.
So, Ron counsels people to discover what God is teaching in whatever the financial circumstances.
Job, in the Bible, exemplifies someone who experienced an extreme change in his fortunes.
He was a prosperous man with family, possessions, servants and leadership that is probably comparable to being a multimillionaire today. Job was “the richest person in that entire area” (Job 1:3, New Living Translation). Although he had riches, he hoped in the promised Savior and enjoyed an intimate relationship with God.
Then in one tragic day, Job lost all his finances and even his children.
Job immediately humbled himself before God, acknowledging that all he had was from God. His reply was, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). When his wife suggested giving up, he said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10).
Job’s way of looking at his financial struggles reflected his personal character.
The Lord describes Job as His servant who was “the finest man in all the earth -- a man of complete integrity” who “fears God and will have nothing to do with evil" (Job 1:8, NLT).
Job longed for God, not finances.
He said, “I know that You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
He accepted his adversity and acknowledged God’s character.
God can be trusted to provide for the needs we face.
“Our heavenly Father wants us to enjoy a full, abundant life free from the cares and stresses brought by confidence in money and other material possessions,” wrote Cru co-founder, Bill Bright. “Rather than trusting in a worldly system that cannot assure our welfare or relying on our own weak capabilities to provide for our needs, He calls us to depend entirely on Him.”
After losing his job, Johnny’s crisis of faith over his financial struggle brought him to a new understanding of God’s trustworthiness.
He remembered his pastor tell about a “Trust Game” played with his little girls, in which he had them jump off some steps into his arms. They would start at the first step. The dad would say, “Jump!” And they would. Then they would go to the next higher step and repeat the process, landing safely in their dad’s arms.
As the steps got higher, the distance was greater. The girls had to make a choice to trust their dad or let fear stop the game.
In his book, Johnny relates this game to his relationship with God and the need to understand His trustworthiness.
He writes that God allowed him to go through financial trials to build a spiritual history of all God did to develop his faith and trust.
Just as the girls learned to trust their dad in that game, Johnny felt the life lessons that he learned in financial difficulty increased his trust in the One who is trustworthy.
Financial struggles are part of life, but the choice is ours: Rely on the changing economy or the unchanging God of the universe.
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