“The company I work for is considering downsizing and no one’s job is safe. No one knows who’s staying and who’s going.”
“I didn’t expect the natural disaster to happen; now I’ll have to take out a loan to make the necessary repairs.”
“Prices are going up and it’s getting harder to make ends meet. We’re trying to live on a budget, but we’re wondering, “Are there any more areas to cut back?”
These conversations can be heard all over America today. The uncertainty in the world, the stock market, and the government is trickling down to individual families. Many Christians find themselves wondering, “How can I trust that God’s financial principles will work in such turbulent times?”
Instead, the question we should be asking is, “Who or what can we trust besides God?”
Psalm 18:30-32 says,
“As for God, His way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
He shields all who take refuge in Him.
For Who is God besides the Lord?
And Who is the Rock except our God?
It is God Who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
Sometimes we read Scriptures like this and think, “Nice sentiment, but what does the guy who wrote this know about my situation? He lived in Bible days. He didn’t have the stress that we have today.”
Well, in the case of this psalm, nothing could be further from the truth! This psalm was written by David---a man who knew turbulent times. He knew what it was like to have no security, no job, no home, no money, but still have people depending on him. Think about it: even while Saul was chasing David around the countryside trying to kill him, David had a family depending on him. All you have to do is read the book of Psalms to know that there were days when David wondered, “Is it really worth it to follow God’s principles?”
In fact, David describes some of those days earlier in Psalm 18:4-6 “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.”
David knew hard, difficult, challenging times. He also knew that the best policy during these times was to turn to God rather than run from God. He doubled his commitment to following God’s principles, rather than abandoning them. In these difficult times, we need to follow David’s example and cling to God and His principles trusting that God has a plan for our lives just as He did for David’s life.
What are some practical actions that we can take to show that we trust God during difficult times?
We can keep doing what we know is right.
Psalm 18:20-24 says, “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning from my God. All His laws are before me; I have not turned away from His decrees. I have been blameless before Him and have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.
Even when times are difficult, we need to keep doing what we know is right. This includes tithing 10% of our gross income to the work of the Lord. Statistics tell us that one of the first things eliminated when Christians face financially tough times is tithing. For some reason, we convince ourselves that this is optional.
However, the Bible does not consider tithing something a Christian can opt out of. In fact, Malachi 3:8-9 says that not tithing is stealing from God.
“’Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!’
But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’
‘You have not given Me the tenth part of what you receive and your gifts. You are cursed, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!’”
Like many today, the people of Malachi’s day were facing financial difficulties. Post-exilic life wasn’t the bed of roses they imagined, and many had stopped obeying God’s principles. They adopted an apathetic, compromising, “me-first” mentality in their lives and abandoned the basic principles of God---tithing included.
When Malachi arrives on the scene, his message said, “Are you kidding me? We just got back from exile and you’re already neglecting the Temple of the Lord and putting yourselves first? Let’s get our priorities straight, people---maybe our lives will finally get a little better.”
In his prophecy, Malachi reminds the people that you don’t abandon God’s ways when times get tough---you cling to them trusting that God will reward you for obeying His commands. Malachi 3:10 reads “Bring the tenth part into the store-house, so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,” says the Lord of All. “See if I will not then open the windows of heaven and pour out good things for you until there is no more need.”
These verses are still applicable to us today. When we face uncertain times of financial difficulty, the worst thing we can do is rob God and stop paying our tithes. This will only make our lives more difficult as we will be living under a curse. Instead, we need to be strong and courageous and determine that no matter what our income, we will return 10% to God in obedience to His command trusting that He will provide all of our needs.
2. Keep following God’s Financial Principles
Have you ever felt like your circumstances gave you special permission to stop obeying the Bible?
The people in Malachi’s day did.
Malachi 3:14-15 tattles on their thoughts when it says, “You have said, ‘It is of no worth to serve God. What do we get by doing what He says, or by walking in sorrow before the Lord of All? So now we say that it is good to be proud. Not only are sinners doing well, but they put God to the test and get away with it.’”
Sometimes it’s easy to look around at people who aren’t following God’s financial principles and think “They are better off than I am!” They’ve got a new car. They’re going on vacation. They don’t worry about money, and they seem a lot happier.” It’s tempting to look at their lives and say, “I’m not sure it’s worth it.”
But look what Malachi 3:16-18 goes on to say, “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
These verses answer the question “Is it worth it?” by saying, “God sees everything. He knows those who are truly His and are truly following Him, and He will make a distinction, in His time, and in His way.”
Our responsibility in times of any difficulty---including financial---is to keep following God’s principles. In our financial lives, that means keep applying the principles of budgeting, living within your means, saving money for emergencies, avoiding debt, and being a good steward even when times are tough. This is a lesson our family learned during our big financial crisis and subsequent mini-financial challenges.
This wasn’t the time to start making excuses, compromising, and abandoning God’s principles for money management. It was time to start applying them to our lives and make them work for us. Just like we use our GPS to get directions when we’re lost, we need to turn to the Biblical principles about money when we’re financially lost. They’ll give us clear direction for how to get back on track.
3. Keep following God, trusting that He knows best.
After we’ve done all we can to obey God’s principles and handle our finances wisely and responsibly, we need to come to the place where we trust God to honor our choice to obey Him and learn to trust Him to provide our needs. The Bible has many promises for Christians. Among these promises are financial promises. If we are truly follow Christ and seeking His kingdom above all else in our lives, we can depend on these promises to sustain us.
One of the first promises is “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
Sometimes, this means following God through financial challenges trusting that He knows best. I remember a few years ago right before Thanksgiving our roof began to leak. As the contractors came to inspect the situation we were told we needed a new roof.
To be honest, I was angry. I couldn’t believe God was doing this to us. In my mind, there was no way we needed this financial pressure in our lives. I remember crying as I prayed, “Why are You allowing this? The financial strain will be unbearable!”
Still, we had to replace the roof and for the next few months, money was extremely tight. With God’s help, we paid for the roof and went on with our lives. It wasn’t until the next year that I understood why God allowed our roof to leak when He did. Only 12 months later, there were stories all over the news about the rising cost of shingles. In that short amount of time, the cost of a new roof tripled. Had we waited like I wanted, we’d have paid $10,000 more! That incident stands as a memorial stone in my mind, that God can be trusted—even when I don’t understand.
Other times, learning to trust God means taking a step of faith in obedience to His will, even when it doesn’t make financial sense. I remember when my brother and I were invited to participate in several ministry events that only covered part of our expenses. We made the decision to walk through the doors God opened and began praying that He would provide financially. And He did! Two weeks before the first event, a man we didn’t even know approached my brother in a store and said God wanted to bless the ministry. Then he made a donation that bridged the gap we had in our upcoming expenses. What a miracle! It was a confirmation to us that we can trust God to pay for the things He orders.
Other times, learning to trust God has meant our family following the leading of the Holy Spirit and giving to someone else. I remember when we were first living on a budget; the Holy Spirit laid it on my Mom’s heart to give a gift to a family that was experiencing a health crisis. At that time, trusting God meant following His lead and blessing that family while we trusted God to provide our own needs. As God’s children, this is something He will ask us to do from time to time. We must be willing to answer this call and give His money where He directs us.
You see, learning to trust God isn’t the same as living in unreality about money. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It doesn’t mean you pretend you have no financial problems or avoid your financial responsibilities. Rather, when you choose to start facing reality and solving your financial problems by living by God’s financial principles, you are trusting God that His ways are right. Obeying God’s Laws is actively learning to trust God.
As you choose to obey God’s Laws and follow His ways, you are choosing to follow His will for your life. When He chooses to take you down a road that is unexpected, or asks you to take a step of faith with your finances, you show you are learning to trust Him by doing what He asks. You do this not because you are living in unreality about your finances or even the challenges of the situation. No, you choose to follow God because you know He is Trustworthy and He will provide all your needs. Probably not all of your wants, but all of your needs.
As the Bible says in Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
We end where we began, with the words of David. Through ups and downs, impossible struggles and glorious victories, challenges and fears, triumphs and tragedies, David walked with God. At the end of his life, David concluded that through it all, God provided for those who trusted Him and obeyed His commands. This is a promise that you can bank on: If you will remain faithful and follow God’s financial principles, He will be faithful to you and provide all of your needs. That’s the assurance any of us have during these shaky, uncertain times.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” Psalm 46:1-2
Looking for More Biblical Teaching on Finances? Check out our Video Series, "Five Minutes to Financial Freedom"