With banks and insurance companies collapsing, foreclosures and jobless rates rising, how can we keep our joy? Here are five ways:
Live for Real Security.
The blessing of this economy is its frailty. Why is that a blessing? Because it serves as the barometer of our real security. If our security is based on something that can be taken away from us, we are living for the wrong security. Take a deep breath; let it out. In that, breathe in God’s economy, letting out your own reliance on the American economy. Read Matthew 7: 24-27 where Jesus talks about building our houses on sand or the rock. In this time of stress, evaluate which foundation you’ve building on today. Is it a paycheck, or the Giver of all Good Things? Food in the fridge, or the Bread of Life?
There are so many things to treasure—our homes, our cars, our furniture, our clothing, and especially our relationships. It’s not wrong to be thankful for these things and people, but we will live freer lives if we first see God as our best treasure. Why? Because nothing can take Him away from us. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Securing our hearts to God adds the treasure of His presence to our lives. In the Irish hymn “Be Thou My Vision,” the words capture this principle beautifully: “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise. Thou mine inheritance now and always. Thou and Thou only, first in my heart. High king of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”
Give in the opposite spirit.
Are you stressed about money? Give hilariously. 2 Corinthians 9:7b says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” The best way to break the stronghold of money-worry in your life is to do the counterintuitive thing and pray this prayer: “God, show me how I can financially bless someone this week.” Giving away, even when circumstances are difficult, is a faith-filled act. You’ll be surprised how your hilarious giving breaks the cycle of stress in your life.
Practice reality-based spending.
Marketers have a term for it: aspirational marketing. They target people who long for a certain income or status and market to their aspirations. Who cares if you can’t afford that car! If you buy with this easy payment plan, you can look like you afford it. Forget that you will be latched to the payments for years or that the car will depreciate faster than your cash flow. In this economy, it’s important to buy things without tying them to our aspirations. Be realistic instead. Don’t be duped into thinking you’ll feel happier if you have that cool new thing. Instead ask yourself, “Self? Can I afford to pay cash for this thing?” If the answer is no, set your aspirations aside and don’t buy it.
Be blessed to be a blessing.
We Americans truly don’t realize how good we have it. One of the most humbling conversations I had was with my friend Paul in Ghana. He said, “For ten years I never knew when my next meal was coming.” Imagine living for ten years, not knowing when you’d have breakfast or lunch or dinner! We are blessed beyond measure. We live like kings here. Why not shift your contentment meter a bit. Take your eyes off your circumstance and consider the rest of the world. How can you bless someone less fortunate than you? Thinking of your wealth in terms of blessing others will revolutionize your attitude toward money today.
Yes, this economy is strained and scary. Yes, it could get worse before it gets better. But as Christ-followers in the midst of this crisis, we have more. We have the security of knowing God will never leave us. We have the ultimate treasure in Him. We have the ability to give even when we’re worried. We don’t have to be duped by the marketing machine into believing our worth is based on what status symbol we have. And we have been blessed beyond measure, not to hoard, but to give it away. And in all that, we find joy.