It’s the virus . . . and it’s the money.
Please don’t take that as indifference to the medical dangers. The dangers are real and threaten old and young alike. But money also lurks behind so much of our anxiety, and right now our money is under threat, too. The economy is in upheaval, retirement accounts are way down, family members are out of work and no work is in sight. And if it is true that most of us have an emergency fund of $500 or less, we are in trouble.
I spoke with three people by phone yesterday. One followed Jesus, one appreciated Jesus but not Jesus’ church, and one called from a medical office to cancel my appointment. Each one was freaked out by uncertain finances and asked me to pray. Desperation can do that. It can drive us deeper into independence, or it can remind us that we have much less control than we thought, and need help from the One who is in control. These three recognized that, and wanted Jesus and his help.
These conversations sent me to Jesus’ words about money (Matt 16:19–34). Here are some that stand out.
“Are you not much more valuable than they [the birds of the air]?” This question is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching on worry, and he is expecting you to respond. Do you believe that you are more valuable to Jesus than the birds? Or, put another way, do you believe that he loves you? Of course, you know the correct answer but sometimes that answer doesn’t seem to make much difference. The words “I love you. . .and you are of great worth to me. . .” sound good, but they don’t pay the bills.
In order to get your heart in the right place, you need practice both to hear his question and to give an honest answer. So practice. Pose the question to yourself throughout the day and before you give the “correct” answer, consider why it carries so little weight. Then imagine—see by faith—that you are fully secure in your Father’s affection and care. Would that make a difference? Yes, that would make a difference. Imagine life today with a little more confidence that your Father knows you and loves you more than he does the birds.
“Your heavenly father knows that you need them [life’s essentials].” Since you are especially valuable to your Father, he knows and remembers what you need. Your needs are impressed on his heart.
This should ring true because even human fathers know what we need. I felt independent at an early age. I always had jobs, bought what I needed, and assumed that college would be my own responsibility. But independence is a myth. I remember times when my car would die, and cars never die when it is convenient. I remember my father showing up, at weird hours of the night, arranging for a tow truck, and sorting out details that I didn’t anticipate. Without ever a complaint. Happy to do it. He was alert to my needs. And I was probably nineteen before I knew that he had been paying for my car insurance.
Your heavenly Father knows of your financial needs and worries. “Knows” means that he is active, right now, sorting out the details. This gives you the freedom to focus on other matters.
“Seek first his kingdom.” Jesus is saying something like this: since your Father concerns himself with tomorrow, give your attention to today—you are a critical partner in your Father’s mission and there is much to do. Your fears always wander toward the future and are filled with doomsday predictions. Yet, you never imagine a future with God in it. As a result, your predictions are inaccurate. So leave the future to your Father, and come back to this day. Pray for his will to be done today. Pray that you would love God and neighbor today. The mission he gives you is never paused by life’s circumstances, including being homebound. It still includes confession, faith, love, prayer, forgiving and seeking forgiveness of others, saying “no” to temptations, and finishing a project you said you would finish. Tomorrow will have its troubles. Jesus even says this. Instead of worrying, seek his grace for those troubles tomorrow.
Now, how will you pray today?
Lord, my needs feel pressing and loud in my heart today but I trust that you know and care. Thank you that I am not alone in this. I will never understand why you care for me, but I believe that you do. Even though I still don’t know how you will provide, I want to focus on your plans for me today. Please help.