Twice in my adult years I have seen our country go through a major recession. I have seen 15 point interest rates on home loans, I have seen times where you were only able to buy gas, if it was available, on the odd or even calendar date based on the last number of your license plate. In this last recession many in our church family lost their homes because they lost their jobs and anyone who spends any time in marriage counseling knows that financial stresses put a heavy strain on marriages. Lifestyles changed, future plans were impacted, kids were pulled out of Christian schools, new worries were created and rather than trying to figure what model of a new car to buy some have been trying to figure how to put gas in the one car they have left.
We have all heard of a concert or sporting event being cancelled due to “Unforeseen Circumstances,” but what about when that event was, your life. What if the doctors visit and diagnoses changed they way you live for the rest of your life, what if the economy changed and so did your standard of living. One thing I have learned over the years is that there are some things that span the full spectrum of economic statuses and that a dramatic financial downturn is hard for everyone. Imagine going from having your name on the side of the building to having your name on your shirt, imagine going from having a respectable well paying job with your name on your shirt to signing your name on the unemployment application or seeing your name on the eviction notice. No matter what your financial status may be no person is better than the other as an individual, and a reversal of fortune, no matter what “fortune” may mean to you and no matter what the cause of the change of fortune, it is hard for anyone. For some the unforeseen change in lifestyle was caused by an unforeseen and prolonged illness or injury and add to the loss of income the needs of a family and medical costs and this can lead to a complete change of outlook on life and even cause wounds to the hope, joy and peace that was once had. I do believe that most of those who have had a change of fortune would agree that it does not compare to the loss of a loved one or early life traumas but… it still hurts and impacts their life.
I do not know how many times I have prayed with people to find a job in this last recession nor do I know what percentage of them also asked that they would not lose hope and confessed their struggles with God allowing this, but it was high. These are good and honest petitions and confessions and they are not to be dismissed or minimized because they are just as real as other kinds of losses and they do impact peoples lives and cause marriages to dissolve and tear families apart. I can assure you that as a father or mother worrying about how to keep a roof over your families head and food in their mouths is not small matter. I can also assure you that the adversary the devil seeks to exploit Unforeseen Circumstances and bring about disillusionment and despair.
As with the other chapters this is not an effort to install sound financial practices to stave off such things ever happening. This chapter is about when the house has been lost, or the job or health and circumstances and a bright future have been overshadowed by Unforeseen Circumstances. Whether they could have been avoided or not is not the subject of this chapter, some can and others cannot but for our intents and purposes the cause is irrelevant. Losing everything hurts whether “everything” means millions or not that much everything means everything. It hurts, it’s hard and there’s hope. I want to share a verse with you and I want you to keep reading after you read it because it is true not matter what your “everything’ was, be it much or little.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.1 Timothy 6:6-7
This verse is important because it establishes a target for us, the being contentment. When everything has changed and you were already content with the food and clothing you had and now it’s a struggle in both areas how do you get back to being content without those things. Can it be done, Can you Dance with the Scar of losing everything? Yes!
First of all I want to say something you already know and believe, something you would say yourself without hesitation when things were good. You would say it and sincerely mean it and that is: Contentment comes from God not things. This is an easy truth to quote when things are going well but this truth isn’t lessened or changed by circumstances. Remembering this is critical to our handling dramatic lifestyle changing events. However, if we think contentment will come back when we “gain” the things that we lost we have misunderstood the definition of contentment in the first place. Some who are reading may be thinking, I know that but it doesn’t make it hurt any less, it’s still hard, and you would be right. But something hurting and being hard does not change truth either and the truth is that contentment can be had and should be sought outside of the re-accumulation of things. You can be content with little in comparison to the much you used to have and I know it’s true because the Bible says it and I have seen it with my own eyes.
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.