“I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked”
The American Psychological Association recently conducted a study of more than 3,000 adults to determine the effects of stress on people’s health. They discovered that money was the leading cause of anxiety in America, in spite of the fact that we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Financial worry outpaced concerns about work, relationships, and health.
“Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of adults report feeling stressed about money at least some of the time” 1When Christians experience money trouble we can rest knowing the Lord does not want us to lie awake at night worrying. And we know this is true because Jesus told His disciples not to worry about their material needs. (Matthew 6:25) Likewise, Paul also tells us to be anxious for nothing and to pray about everything. (Philippians 4:6). The purpose of this post is not to suggest resources to help solve a financial crisis, but rather to consider how we can minimize anxiety and maintain a Biblical perspective when going though one.
Granted, when our financial problems are self-inflicted we probably want to flog ourselves, but we need to accept God's forgiveness if necessary, learn from it, and move on. Even those situations are under God's sovereign control and are designed to work for our good in the end. (Romans 8:28) But sometimes no matter how well we try to plan and budget, unforeseen circumstances can come up and we find ourselves in way over our head.
A major financial reversal can be every bit as sanctifying as other kinds of trials because it's humbling and it forces us to depend on God. I know it’s not easy keeping calm when the bills are stacking up, but learning to trust the Lord in times of uncertainty is one of the things that sets Christians apart from world. "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Matthew 6:32.
Another problem with stressing about money is that we can be tempted to covet and envy others. Asaph was a Levitical choir director who made this mistake and his envy led him to utter despair and bitterness.
“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.” Psalm 73:2-5
He had falsely believed these people had it all together because they were wealthy and healthy and he just couldn’t grasp why he, being righteous, had to struggle.
“When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” (vs.16-17)
Just as “God is good to Israel”, He is also good to us. The Lord doesn’t promise us health and wealth, but He knows our needs better than we do and instructs us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”. He wants us to depend completely on Him because He is our strength and portion regardless of our circumstances.“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (vs.25-26)