When MMCW asked me to post an excerpt from my new book Still Looking: Finding the Peace of God in Job Loss, I decided that although not everyone has experienced a job loss, most of us have experienced monetary problems and losses, for which the book also gives biblical advice. So this is an excerpt from my chapter “Money Matters—and How?” that I hope you will find helpful no matter your situation:
A bumper sticker says, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.” But even when you don’t have a job, if you are an average American, you still owe. And, as someone said, “When your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.”
After my husband’s second job loss we vowed that once we were employed again, we would do better about staying out of debt and investing for the unforeseen future. And we did do better after he was employed again. But even though we wanted to save, we lived mostly paycheck to paycheck while paying three years of college expenses, some of which we had to borrow. When his third job loss happened (the story with which this book began), our daughter was about to enter college where our son was going into his senior year. Was I stressed about money? Is the pope Catholic?
It may sound like a stereotype but, in most of the interviews I did [for the book], it became clear that, in families, the man’s biggest fear in unemployment was that his wife and children would consider him a failure. The woman’s biggest fear was that their money would be gone before employment arrived. As the one who paid the bills and kept track of savings, I fit that stereotype perfectly. I had counted and recounted and tried to manipulate figures, but the facts were the facts and I knew them all too well. One day I suddenly stopped before using a paper towel to clean up a spill, telling myself I should use a rag because of the cost of paper towels. That unreasonable fear of using something that cost a fraction of a penny became a wake-up call—I needed to get a grip on my worries about money.
In the journal that I kept during that time were a number of entries for that period of unemployment. Even though my husband had been working on getting hired by a certain company for approximately five months, we were still waiting on return calls from the recruiter and experiencing delays and sudden cancellations of interviews. What looked hopeful one day would look totally dismal the next. One day’s entry in my journal contained only one sentence but shouted my frustration at another financial setback: “Tonight I discovered the hot water heater had a leak.”
We often live in fear of the future rather than trust of the Father. Then when the unimaginable happens, rather than leaning on God, we waste time and energy arguing with Him or demanding answers to our “why?” questions.
When we live in fear of what might happen to us—much of which probably won’t—we give fear free rein to run away with us. Jesus told us not to worry about the future because we can’t control it, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt. 6:34).
The writer of Hebrews (13:5-6) reminded us that money, as necessary as it is and as powerful as we might consider it, is not the ultimate answer. He directed us to the One who is:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”