I’ll never forget that April morning when we woke up without food. A million thoughts passed through my mind. We had only been married for a few years, and we were battling like any other young couple to get ahead in our Latin American country’s unstable economy.
I’ll be honest: our faith faltered. But, even amidst our doubts, God surprised us in showing the care He has for us.
When we go through experiences like this, we ask ourselves: Why does this have to happen to me? There are different reasons why God allows financial difficulties in the lives of His children. Here are six of them:
1) To strengthen our faith
Faith can be compared to one of the muscles of the body. If some part of our body is not used properly, it atrophies. Something similar happens in our spiritual life. The “muscle” of faith needs to be exercised.
Unless our faith is put to the test, it will not be exercised or strengthened. Aware that trials are a reality in the life of the believer, the apostle Peter encourages us by saying:
Though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Financial limitations or total loss of income can be orchestrated by God in the lives of his chosen ones to help us manage our income well and strengthen our faith.
2) To teach us wisdom
Exercising financial dominion requires practice. There are lessons we learn with experience such as discerning between a need and a want, deciding how much to tithe or donate, cutting expenses to stay within the budget, among others.
When our resources are limited, our options are narrowed. Sometimes it’s only under that stress that we learn financial truths. Therefore, financial crises are a good opportunity to correct behaviors and prioritize God’s will in our lives.
If take the path of biblical wisdom, we will avoid the various regrets of bad decisions and move toward a better financial future. You may need to seek advice, read a book, or listen to a podcast about finances. In financial trials, my recommendation is to, “[Make] your ear attentive to wisdom and [incline] your heart to understanding” (Proverbs 2:2).
3) To show us that money should not rule us
There is a sense of relief and comfort when we find ourselves in stages of life where our needs are met. This is more evident when our income allows us to enjoy financial comfort.
Unfortunately, that feeling could lead us to the idolatry of money, comfort, or pleasure—popular gods of this world. Tolerating these idols can make us sin against God by making money the object of our devotion. The Lord allows economic crises to teach us that money should not be the king of our hearts. Christ should!
We find a warning against the danger of idolizing money when Paul tells the Ephesians to not even mention greed among them, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:3, 5, emphasis added).
4) To teach us the value of contentment
Being born into a deprived home does not free us from the influence of materialism. One of materialism’s effects is that we stop appreciating some intangible riches, such as the life and spiritual blessings that we enjoy in Christ. When this happens, we are easily drawn into the sin of discontent.
Seeking to counteract this way of thinking in believers, the author of Hebrews reminds us that we must live content with what we have, “For he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb 13:5).
Despite our sufferings due to economic situations, we can grow in contentment. Paul is an example that it is possible to learn to be content—regardless of the circumstances—because we have Christ (Phil 4:11).
5) To teach us to comfort others
We often appreciate support and counsel more from someone who has overcome the same affliction that we are suffering. Christ’s incarnation and suffering is just one illustration of this (Hebrews 4:15). Our Lord experienced the pains of living in a fallen world. He did it all because of our sins. Therefore, He brings encouragement through His Holy Spirit to the souls of those who have been transformed by the gospel.
Christians can also encourage others after they have experienced such comfort. Both ideas are considered by Paul when he writes that God, “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). When we go through periods of want and experience the comfort of God, we can have the conviction, the testimony, and the willingness to comfort those who experience the consequences of their lack.
6) For the glory of Christ and the advancement of the gospel
God is working to display His glory in our financial limitations. This is true not only because it forges our character to become more like Christ, but also because it allows us to be witnesses of Christ to those who do not know Him.
When a Christian reacts appropriately to such circumstances, unbelievers may find that a believer’s identity is not found in the vehicle he drives, that true joy is not in the clothes he wears, that peace is not found in a luxurious home, that the secret to security is not a prominent job or academic degree. While all the above can have a place in the life of a believer who gives God the glory, the search for fullness ends only when we find Christ.
Christians are light to the world because we demonstrate that our citizenship is in heaven (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 3:20). Our final hope is not found on earth. Certainly, our Father allows his children to experience various afflictions, including economic ones. But there are greater purposes that we are fulfilling through these difficulties. Ultimately, they all result in the maturity of His children, the spread of the gospel, and the glory of His name.