Maybe you know that “stressed” spelled backwards equals “desserts.” Besides chocolate, are there some constructive ways for handling the stress of a depressed economy and the pressure to provide? Last week I received this comment to a previous blog (Why Can’t I Step Out in Faith?):
… by the world’s standards, I have a “great” job in that I’ve moved to upper management, I make more money than I ever dreamed possible, and yet, I’m so unhappy. I have a wonderful family, but the higher you move up the corporate ladder, the more that is required of you. To keep the job, the salary, and all the things the world says you should aspire to and be so grateful for – and I am grateful for the blessing of this job – you have to be willing to auction off more and more of yourself: your own values, your family, your time with God, your soul’s cry for something more…”
I appreciate this woman’s openness, and I know her words echo the sentiments of countless others. Her comment coupled with the words of Hosea 2:5,8 spurred me to reflect on the source of the stress that comes from striving for financial security. In this economy, many feel extra pressure to sell out to keep that job that provides a check, but robs them of everything else they value.
Gomer left her husband, the prophet Hosea, to become a prostitute. Her reason, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.” But God saw it differently, “She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold—which they used for Baal.”
The need for “security” drove Gomer into prostitution. Was her drastic path necessary? No! Her misperception, not real need drove her. Her lovers lavished her with stuff which she mistook for love and life. But God was her real Provider. Her path led to loss not gain, pain not safety.
How can we keep from selling ourselves for the ever illusive sense of invulnerability? Psalm 127:2 tells us “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved in his sleep.” Sometimes instead of large paychecks, He makes clothes and shoes last as He did for the children of Israel in the desert. Sometimes He gives good health and sweet connections with those we love.
Not believing that God really has our best interests in mind is the root of our striving. When my welfare is based on my ability to provide, then I must keep this job at any cost, even if it means sacrificing my health and my family relationships. Like Gomer, we find ourselves on the road to destruction.
The solution lies in knowing the truth: God cares for His children. He has my best interests in mind. His care for the birds and flowers reminds us of His great love and care for us. Meditating on Matthew 6:24-34 helps my motivation switch from fear of the “what ifs” to faith in God.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear… Pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
Change your focus. You can’t serve money and God. Renew your relationship with your heavenly Father. You don’t have to change the economy, change yourself and everything else will change for you. A life of faith makes life and dessert sweeter!
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