Twenty years ago, God called my husband, Ken, and I out of full time ministry into the business world. No moral failure or any such thing was involved. God simply said, “Appreciate all you’ve done but I’m wrapping up this phase of your lives now. I want you over here instead.” Unclear as to exactly where “here” was, we still packed up and left, excited and scared.
In retrospect, God clearly designed a Ken-sized spot in the insurance industry. The journey to success, though, took us through the bloody battlefield of financial loss and setback. The first insurance company who hired Ken was a sketchy outfit. He spent 50 hours a week trying to sell poor quality products.
No openings existed with larger, more reputable companies for a guy with no insurance experience. The result: no income for six months. Each day we started the morning convinced he’d sell product, but in that whole time he sold three small policies which didn’t even cover his expenses.
So, what did you live on, you might ask? I started teaching private piano lessons which almost paid for groceries. We paid the rest of our bills using all our savings, retirement funds and some credit cards. Despair lived at our house. We questioned our ability to hear God and ourselves daily.
Most days I’d spend a chunk of the morning on my face, crying out to God in praise and intercession. This discipline emotionally carried me through the rest of the day. I felt sick to my stomach with every dollar I spent. We tried to buy necessary items, like clothing, at garage sales and thrift stores. I spent hours in garages and discount clothing bins trying to find fashionable outfits for my growing 13-year-old daughter. We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.
What can we do when faced with financial lack? When ministries, churches, businesses and homes are faced with severe monetary challenges, stress can become a constant companion. Sometimes you feel angry, resentful, especially when others around you are financially solvent or blessed. Let me share with you some disciplines God taught me during that season.
Respect God’s processes. Was it a surprise to God that Ken couldn’t sell the low-quality stuff? Were we being punished ? Was He withholding finances? No, no and yes. Let me explain. We repeatedly asked God to show us any areas of sin or poor stewardship. Neither of us sensed that this was the case. This attitude remains my first posture towards a holy God when things go sideways for me. I ask Him, “Are you disciplining me or training me with this?” Knowing the difference is important. If I’ve sinned against Him and His Word, or been careless not to follow the wisdom therein, I best be sortin’ that out first.
God did withhold finances for a while to train us. We had zero experience in going without and living on a very short shoe string. He wanted us to know what that feels like for several reasons, I suspect. We developed new thrifty purchasing strategies. Thankfulness for what we had became far more profound. We are more compassionate prayer warriors towards others in dire straits. Most importantly, the whole season humbled us as we understood better Jehovah Jireh, our provider.
If God has temporarily put a stopper in your finances or slowed your stream, know that He is purposeful. God is a story teller and uses us to create His narratives. He wants to use my story right now to encourage some of you out there and help you to get through another day.
Praise and thank Him for provision, by faith. I turned verses into positive statements of faith, usually out loud. My soul and the enemy of my soul need to hear the truth of my situation. Here’s a couple of my favorites from that season:
So, I will not worry saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after these things and My Heavenly Father knows that we need them. But, instead, I will seek first His kingdom and His righteousness knowing that all these other things will be given to me as well. Based on Matthew 6:31-34
My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. Phillippians 4:19
Focus on the needs of others. I promise this strategy will keep your sanity intact when you’re going through any challenge. Ask God to show you someone facing a similar problem. When I am tempted to fret or pray only for my own needs, I discipline myself to pray for someone else. You are essentially saying to God, “I trust you to handle my concerns which we spoke about already today. Since it’s come to my mind again, I’m using that passion to intercede for someone else.” This might happen many times in a day. Yay! God’s heart is always moved when we put others needs before our own. It also gives Him room to work on our situation without us meddling in it.
So, what happened with Ken’s insurance job and our finances? He scored an interview with one of the top three companies in the nation. They only interviewed people who were already in the insurance industry. That’s the only thing God ever intended the first job to be, a stepping stone. The larger company set him up in his own place of business including staff and numerous resources. They paid all his bills, including a sizable salary, for five years, until he purchased the business as his own.
Take courage my friend, dark financial days will give way to brighter ones, if you remain obedient, teachable and thankful.