September 30, 2008 by

Where We Are Leaning


Categories: current issues, faith

All you have to do to feel a healthy dose of fear these days is listen to the news. All this stuff about the economy, the desperate need for a bailout, the Congress defeating it, the stock market plummeting…I don’t even play the market, and don’t have investments there, and it’s enough to make me queasy. So I can imagine what people are going through whose retirement accounts and/or jobs are on the line right now.

I’m not a doomsayer about such things; I’m not ready to jump into every dark theory about world economic collapse. I don’t know what this is, honestly, or how deep the hole goes. But as I’ve been watching all this unfold–not just over weeks but over months–I’m being reminded of something that we as Christ-followers really need to hold onto these days:

We are not to rely on the world’s economic system. We are subjects of another kingdom.

Now, recognizing all the abuses that have come from the prosperity message, we must understand that most teachings that get out of hand begin with a nugget of truth. When we deconstruct that wrong teaching, we mustn’t do away with the truth part of it (i.e., don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater). What I am saying is that while Scripture does not condone the culture of greed and selfishness that has come out of the prosperity doctrine, there is still plenty of Scripture that underscores God’s desire to see His children provided for and taken care of.

I don’t intend to launch into some big teaching here…but couple of Scriptures come to mind to encourage my own heart. Psalm 37, for example, is a great Scripture to encourage us to commit our way to God. I’m especially reminded of verse 19, which says that “…in the days of famine they [the righteous] will have plenty.” In my mind, there is no better passage to express that we do not have to be governed by the economics around us, or worried about them. If it’s famine we’re headed for…we can trust God for plenty in the midst of it.

Another example where this actually plays out is in Genesis 26, where God actually calls Isaac to dwell in a land of famine. In verse 12, it says that Isaac sowed in the land and reaped 100-fold, and became “very wealthy.” The significance of this is that it was a time of famine–not a time when people generally sow seed. Isaac actually acted out of trust in God, not in reaction to the situation around him; as a result, God’s blessing of Isaac stood in stark contrast to the world around him–in the days of famine he had plenty.

I say all this to say that in times like these, we need to challenge ourselves to put our trust in God, who is higher than any economic power on the globe. If God can feed millions of people daily by dropping bread from the sky, and if He can feed Elijah from the ravens, He can certainly take care of those who put their trust in Him–both in tough times and in good. We need to be leaning on Him.

So…how does this “leaning” flesh out? Jesus talked about this idea of trusting in God over the world’s material system at length during what we call the “Sermon on the Mount.” In Matt. 6:19-34, Jesus tells us that our “treasure” is really a matter of the heart (v.21). He also tells us not to be concerned about our basic needs, that God knows and is fully able to take care of us–that our focus needs to be on His kingdom. When we can forget about the worries of our own heart to focus on what God is doing, that’s a good display of trust right there.

So these are the things I’m encouraging my own heart with, and hope to encourage you with as well. I think living this out includes choosing not to worry (which Jesus was pretty clear about), reminding ourselves that we aren’t governed by the economic systems of this world, but by Someone higher. I think it involves choosing to trust God, to lean ourselves upon Him, especially when we feel afraid. I think it involves not settling for lack–meaning that if we do experience lack, we shouldn’t just sit back and declare it to be God’s will for us, but to trust Him to get us out of that situation–to make a way for us.

And one more important point: I think we should not stop being generous. Just as Isaac sowed in famine, we need to sow good seeds of generosity. I’m not talking about working a seed-faith type formula as much as I’m talking about trusting God enough to practice the virtue of generosity even when it hurts. I’m not saying we should give our money to rich televangelists. I’m saying we should support people around us who are doing good Kingdom things, and bless those in need. Over and over in Scripture (both Testaments) we see that being a blessing to others is part of our birthright. When God blesses us in famine, it isn’t for us to horde it for ourselves, but for us to help others. And if you are one of those whom God has blessed with wealth–the Bible makes it clear that this comes with a high level of responsibility to care for others. But wealthy or no…we are not given permission to cease to be generous just because we are uncertain of what the future holds. In the world’s economy, you gain wealth by storing it up and hording it; but in God’s economy, receiving comes through giving. I think that choosing to remain generous in famine is one probably of the greatest acts of trust we can practice.

So…are we headed that way? Are we headed for days of lack? I don’t know. What I do know is, I don’t want to wait for some global financial collapse to scramble around looking for someplace to lean. I want to remember now that my heart should lean upon the Lord, especially in times like these. No matter what the TV or the papers say…God is fully able to take care of us. Even if it means sending ravens.

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

7 Responses to Where We Are Leaning

  1. Amy

    Excellent post. I think you hit on a lot of important things we need to remind ourselves in this unstable season of our country. I specifically liked:

    “We are not to rely on the world’s economic system. We are subjects of another kingdom.”

    “What I am saying is that while Scripture does not condone the culture of greed and selfishness that has come out of the prosperity doctrine, there is still plenty of Scripture that underscores God’s desire to see His children provided for and taken care of.”

    Very well stated. I fully agree.

    I like how you touched on not giving into fear, worry, and anxiety, but rather trusting that God is going to take care of us, yet also praying/communicating to Father our thoughts, feelings and requests, continuing to be generous where the Holy Spirit calls us, an inner peace and the reminder that God is working out all things for good.

    ~Amy 🙂

  2. Sarah

    Yes! Amen, Jeff. I’m not an investor either (besides Kiva). I can’t imagine what it would feel like to lose all the hard-earned money I invested, my home, my retirement, or other savings. My heart goes out to those who’ve experienced this. But we can rest in a faithful God, no matter the circumstances.

    I know for me, I only perceive “lack” when I compare myself to North American standards. When I compare myself to global standards – Even in the midst of crisis, I am in the realm of the “super wealthy” just because of where I live. We get World Vision’s magazine and it is helpful for me since it always brings me back to reality that even in an economic crisis, I’m still rich beyond many people’s wildest dreams.

  3. Lightbearer


    It’s definitely a good reminder. Thanks. I’ve been trying to remind others of this myself. Like you I don’t have anything in the stock market either. But, I have talked to plenty of people who do and they are all freaking out. Even the Christians that I’ve talked to.

    God has certianly loaded the Bible with scriptures pertaining to His faithfulness to those who look to Him. As you were pointing out, the Psalms are certianly a good place to look for such encouragement. One of my favorites is Psalm 34:10 “Even strong young lions will sometimes go hungry. But those who reverence the Lord will never lack any good thing”. And, also a verse in Psalms but I can’t remember where: “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken. Or, His seed begging for bread”.

    Like you, I’m not sure what’s going to happen either. But, I do believe that God is trying to get the attention of this nation.


  4. Mork

    Thanks for these thoughts Jeff …

    Though I reckon a few years trudging around in the Wilderness might not be such a bad thing for those of us living in the West.

  5. Jeff McQ

    Amen to all. 🙂 Thanks.

    It’s a good point to ponder that “rich” is relative to where you live. It’s also fair to say that because of that, prosperity is not measured by an across-the-board standard. In some cultures, a car would be extravagant and even unnecessary, but in others, a car is more of necessity. Same with income streams. In some cultures, $500 a month would be considered affluent; in Manhattan, it’s abject poverty, because you can’t get anything *done* with that little cash. So to me, the prosperity and provision of God is also translatable to one’s context.
    (And we haven’t even touched on the principle of contentment.) 🙂
    Always good to hear from you.

    The second Scripture you referred to is in the Psalm I mentioned–Psalm 37. 🙂 It is a discipline to stay focused on God amid the chaos, to be sure; but it’s a lot more peaceful place than the stock market, especially in these days. 🙂

    Rob, Thanks.

    Spoken like a true Easterner (JK–I know what you meant). 🙂 Wilderness or no, God’s provision is there. Whether it translates to a land of milk and honey, or a daily supply of manna and shoes that don’t wear out–it’s God’s provision, yes?

  6. Sarah

    Thanks for your response, Jeff. That’s a helpful perspective. It’s true that context matters.

    I often don’t know where the line is drawn (within my own context) between perceived lack and real lack. I think I am barraged with messages designed to foster discontent, even though my needs are met. For example, there’s a different feeling after looking at a Home magazine (or other consumer-culture oriented media) and a World Vision magazine. One fosters discontent, the other fosters gratefulness and extreme empathy! 🙂

    My husband being a student, we currently live on a very humble income. But I am really learning to be thankful for the educational opportunities (God provided a grant that’s covered half the costs) and just to live in a first world nation – with all of the benefits that entails. Comparing contexts, our standard of living is still much higher than 80% of the globe. Norway lives better than we do, I think. But who wants to learn Norwegian?! 😉

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