By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Caryn Rivadeneira’s book Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed about God’s Abundance (InterVarsity Press, 2014).
Financial pressures – from unemployment to unexpected bills – can cause a tremendous amount of stress in your life. When you don’t have enough money, you’re not just broke, but also broken from the stress of living in a financial crisis.
Something surprising can happen when you’re broke, however. When you seek God in your brokenness, you can find riches that go beyond money, enriching your soul even if your bank account runs low. Here’s how:
Look beyond how God answers your prayers to his presence with you.
Although God may not be answering your prayers for financial provision the way you’d like right now, you can count on the fact that God is with you nevertheless. Make an effort to notice the various signs of God’s constant presence in your life. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you sense God’s presence with you so you can feel comforted by it.
Discover the meaning of praying for daily bread.
You may think about the famous phrase “give us this day our daily bread” from the Lord’s Prayer when you’re praying for God to provide the money you need to live each day. Realize, though, that praying for daily bread isn’t so much about receiving the actual thing you need – money – as it is about deepening your trust in God, who faithfully provides whatever you need. By inviting God to meet your needs rather than trying to meet them apart from God, you’re building a closer relationship to God that will lead to blessings you couldn’t imagine asking God for, but which he gives you unexpectedly as rewards for seeking him.
Embrace the mystery of how God works.
God may not choose to tell you why he has allowed you to go through a financial crisis, or when or how he plans to lead you out of it. But if you embrace the mystery of your situation, you’ll be motivated to keep seeking God, and in the process he will strengthen your faith.
Be open to make whatever lifestyle changes God calls you to make.
If you sense the Holy Spirit’s nudging to do something specific that can significantly improve your financial situation – such as selling items you don’t need, switching your kids from private school to public school, or taking on a side job to earn extra cash – be ready to say “yes” to whatever God calls you to do.
Confess and repent of your financial sins.
Honestly consider how you’ve made mistakes or been selfish with financial decisions that have impacted your current financial crisis. In prayer, confess any sins that have affected your finances, and repent of them by committing to change your habits as God leads you to do so (such as cutting back on the amount of money you spend each month, or creating a plan to pay off your debt).
Learn from the suffering that God allows you to go through.
Trust God to redeem whatever suffering he lets you go through while you’re broke to accomplish valuable purposes in your life. Let your pain lead you to contemplate the Cross, where Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity’s sins showed how God’s love redeems all suffering. As you pray to Jesus for wisdom, you’ll learn whatever God wants to teach you through the suffering that your financial crisis has brought into your life.
Participate in generous relationships with other believers.
When you’re broke, allow yourself to receive help from your brothers and sisters in Christ if God leads them to help you in any specific ways – from giving you grocery store gift cards, to passing along job leads. When you’re past your financial crisis, respond to God’s leading to help other believers with their needs. As you give and receive through relationships with those in your spiritual family, you’ll represent Jesus to one another and see God’s kingdom at work here on Earth.
Choose to believe even when you can’t sense God how God is working in your situation.
During the times when you don’t notice any evidence of God’s work in your crisis, let your mind be the place that clings to God by reminding yourself of His promise to always be with you – and trusting that he is faithful to fulfill that promise, even when you’re not faithful to him or can’t sense him with you.
Let yourself be dazzled by sacred serendipities.
Expect that God may surprise and dazzle you by giving you some unexpected blessings in the middle of your financial crisis, just because he loves you. If that happens, don’t dismiss those blessings as mere coincidences, but recognize that God sent them into your life to encourage you.
Pay attention to your imagination.
What you imagine about your financial future reflects the desires in your heart, which God has placed there. Pray about those desires and ask God to grant them at the right time, in the right ways.
Be open to whatever God wants to teach you in the different seasons of your journey with him.
Whether you’re experiencing a season of financial poverty or financial riches, God is with you and has something to teach you. Ask God to reveal what he wants you to learn in every type of financial circumstances you go through.
Never stop giving.
Don’t let any financial crisis cause you to stop giving to support your local church, charities that help people in need, and any other ways that God leads you to give to others. Even though you’ll have less money to give when you’re in a crisis, it’s important to still maintain the habit of giving, because that’s a way of worshipping God and deepening your trust in Him. God wants to know that you love him more than your money, and when you show him that by obeying his command to give as generously as you can in all circumstances, he will enrich your soul by transforming you into a person who grows more like Jesus every day.
Adapted from Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed about God’s Abundance, copyright 2014 by Caryn Rivadeneira. Published by IVP Crescendo, a division of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com.
Caryn Rivadeneira is a writer, speaker and regular contributor at the Her.menutics blog. She spent years as an editor at Christianity Today's magazines and currently serves on the worship staff at Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church. Her most recent books are Known and Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms (with MOPS International) and the novel Shades of Mercy (Moody Press). She was cofounder of the Redbud Writers Guild, a collective of writers seeking to expand the feminine voice in churches, communities and culture. She has more than 15 years of experience in the publishing industry and is the author of Grumble Hallelujah: Learning to Love Your Life Even When It Lets You Down (Tyndale) and Mama's Got a Fake I.D.: How to Reveal the Real You Behind All That Mom (Waterbrook). She and her family live in Elmhurst, Illinois. Visit her website at: carynrivadeneira.com.
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