I hate money.
I hate it because typically, I don’t have enough of it. I budget, I save, I rarely go out to spend it on luxuries I don’t need. And yet, money keeps escaping my account faster than it’s coming in. Keeping money is not an art I’m skilled at.
Yet, the biggest mistake I make with money is asking God to give me a lot of it.
You don’t often hear people say they mess up with their finances in this way. We tend to believe any incorporation of a spiritual element in our finances is the right course of action.
But the problem is, money isn’t always what God’s provision looks like. When we only ask for money, we’re taking a very narrow view of how God might choose to provide for us.
Certainly, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phillippians 4:19) but there’s no reason to limit how He will supply our needs.
Maybe it will be with money. Maybe it will be something better.
The other day, my fiancé and I were planning out our expenses, plotting our future together. We were distressed once we saw that we would be making less than expected. Because we typically get over-emotional about anything involving money, we both grew sober and quiet. The only solution we had for our financial problem was to turn to divine assistance.
Later that night, I knelt by my bedside and prayed to God something like this: “Please give us more income. Please allow us to be comfortable in the beginning of our marriage.”
After I said amen, I felt a quick stab of guilt in my gut. I knew there had to be a better way to ask for what I really needed.
What occurred next was a reworking of my perspective on God’s provision. I realized that when I pray to God for money and He doesn’t give it, this doesn’t mean He’s not providing.
Rather, it’s the opposite.
More Money or More God
Too often, we’ve set up money as our solution rather than God. The danger in doing this, is that when it comes to praying for God’s provision, what we can actually end up doing is not praying for God at all. We instead pray for money, man’s solution rather than God’s solution.
And this so often makes us blind to how God truly is providing for us.
Now, for those in more stringent tax brackets, asking for money is not a matter of comfort, but of survival. You might need money, and God’s not against that, because there is a difference between being in need and having plenty (Philippians 4:12).
His financial provision will be evident when we are in need. But when we have enough, His provision won’t necessarily look like more money.
His provision is so much greater than slips of paper. It’s time to catch the bigger picture: That His provision is geared more toward making us better people, not making us more comfortable. It’s our human will that desires comfort, but it’s God’s will that desires change.
After my prayer with God, I knew where I went wrong. I asked God for my solution instead of His. I asked God to be comfortable. I didn’t ask Him to direct this opportunity for His purposes and our holiness. I asked for the easy way out.
The Easy Way Out
Sometimes, we make the mistake of believing God’s provision is the easy way out. We believe God will step into our lives to make it easier, not stretch us for His purposes. This is because we’re hardwired to yearn for stability in this topsy-turvy world. We yearn for comfort, ease and convenience, but God has other plans.
Something odd happened when my fiancé and I struggled with our lack of money. We learned to lean into God more. We learned that money is the quick fix, but not always the fix we need in our lives. And most importantly, we grew closer to each other as trial sealed our bond in deeper partnership.
Ultimately, we discovered that God’s provision isn’t always easy, but it’s always the better plan.
Maybe, we thought, this is the truth God wanted us to arrive at: that money and comfort doesn’t challenge us to become better people. Learning to trust in God and rest in His provision does, however.
The Bottom of the Canyon
We can’t see it yet, from our perspective at the bottom of the canyon. We can only see our solutions plotting the way for our escape from trouble. But from God’s vantage point, His provision—whether it’s financial or not—is the necessary solution to fashion us for His purposes. And His provision looks more like change and growth, not comfort.
I used to think that whenever I faced struggle, God was abandoning us. But now I know, change is God’s way of saying hello. We’re just so deaf with comfort that we believe He’s saying goodbye.
He provides us with change in the hard times, yet we’re so hardwired for comfort that we often miss the battlefield we must tread through to be better people. It’s time to redefine God’s provision to care more for our betterment, and this involves being refined through the struggle.
God’s provision truly does make us into holier men and women. And that’s something money can’t buy.
Neal Samudre is the creator of JesusHacks.com and is the author of Jesus Workforce, a guide to help people build better habits and grow as leaders in the workplace. Subscribe to his free course to learn how you can live like Jesus in a busy life.