Surviving financial storms
By Thomas Lindberg
During the last six months, I’ve lost count of the number of
people who have called, e-mailed, taken me to lunch, or met me at the altar and
asked, “Would you please pray about the financial mess I’m in right now? I need
A small-business owner called. “I’ve lost money for the last
six months,” he said. “Please pray.”
A set of parents came to see me: “We’re having trouble
paying our kids’ tuition. Please pray.”
A retired friend told me, “My retirement account has lost
about 30 percent of its value. Please pray.”
That’s just a sample of what I’ve heard recently.
America (and the world) is in a financial storm. Alan
Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman, has said that we are facing a
Is there a word from the Lord during this financial storm?
I’m glad I can say yes!
In 1 Kings 17, a terrible famine had affected the entire
nation. Riverbeds were dry, and the soil was parched and cracked. Food supply
was a genuine problem.
Elijah the prophet traveled far north to a city called Zarephath
(right near the Lebanon border). He asked a widow for a cup of water and a
slice of bread (vv. 10,11). The woman responded that she and her son were about
to make their last meal, and then prepare to die (v. 12). I suspect that none
of our financial storms have us in that desperate a position.
Listen to how Elijah responded to her: “Don’t be afraid. Go
home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from
what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your
son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will
not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives
rain on the land’ ” (vv. 13,14, NIV).
The widow did as the prophet asked, and God was faithful to
provide for her and her son and Elijah as well.
Since God does not change, and since He cares for you as
much as He did for that woman, it makes total sense to believe that the same
God who supplied for her when she had nothing will see you through your
financial storm. What’s the key? Consider these divinely inspired and
time-tested principles for surviving financial storms.
• First, stay focused on God. The Bible says, “Trust in your
money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring” (Proverbs
11:28, NLT). What’s God telling us? He’s saying don’t be deceived. Money is not
the bottom line of life. Don’t make money and things your main focus. Stay
focused on God. He provides for His own.
I find there are three groups of people in the world today:
Those who are afraid; those who don’t know enough to be afraid; and those who
know God and trust the Bible. I want to be in the last group. Want to join me?
• Second, work hard. The Bible teaches, “Lazy people are
soon poor; hard workers get rich” (Proverbs 10:4). How clear! God has little
sympathy for people who are lazy and won’t work. Hear me, I cannot do what God
does and He will not do what I’m responsible to do. Hard work is both my
responsibility and a noble calling. Let’s learn that divine principle and work
hard during financial storms.
• Third, pray often. The Bible says, “Commit your actions to
the Lord, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3). The word “commit” in
that verse means give to God in prayer. Then the verse has a promise — if
you do, your plans will succeed.
One of the greatest problems among God’s people today is not
unanswered prayer; it’s unoffered prayer. You ought to pray often, and include
in your praying the financial situations you face. Remember, there are some
things in your life that only God can fix and solve.
Last month I had lunch with a contractor. He told me of a
job on which he had won the bid. This contractor had figured his costs
accurately, but as he began the job he discovered he was losing money every
“You know what I did?” he asked me. “One afternoon I came to
our church building. I went to the altar and laid the entire mess before God. I
spent about 30 minutes praying. The next week things turned around. I made
money on that project from that prayer meeting on.”
Remember, God does business with people who mean business.
• Fourth, don’t gamble. The Bible says, “Greedy people try
to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty” (Proverbs
During financial storms, there will always be that slick
investment offer, that get-rich-quick scheme. Don’t buy it! Remember what you
learned as a kid: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. God gave
you brains. Then He gave you the Holy Spirit who provides wisdom. And God gives
sanctified common sense.
• Fifth, avoid debt. The Bible teaches, “Just as the rich
rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). You
could summarize that verse in two simple words: Avoid debt. That’s easy to say,
but how do you do it?
Consider this true story. Some years ago a great man of God
came to America from an underdeveloped country. In his homeland this man leads
thousands of believers as their pastor. A friend of mine picked him up at the
airport and took him to a huge shopping mall.
After having lunch and walking around for an hour, my friend
asked, “Well, what do you think of an American mall?”
The man of God replied, “I saw a lot of things I don’t
During this financial storm we’re in, ask God for wisdom.
“Lord, show me the difference between what I need and what I want.” You can be
sure God will answer a prayer like that.
• Finally, give first. The Bible says, “Honor the Lord with
your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be
filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Proverbs
3:9,10, NIV). Various money magazines will tell you to put yourself first or
your family first. The Bible teaches you to put God first. You have a choice:
Which are you going to believe? Whom are you going to trust? What are you going
Let me talk to you personally. During financial storms, the
devil tempts me to cut back on my giving to God. Satan whispers, “Look at the
money you’ll save if you don’t give.” You know what I do? I increase my giving,
and I’ll tell you why. Because I believe what the Bible says in Proverbs
On Fifth Avenue in New York City at the main entrance to
Rockefeller Plaza is a statue of Atlas, a Titan of Greek mythology. He strains
to support the world on his shoulders. Across the street is St. Patrick’s
Cathedral. One of its stained-glass windows depicts the Boy Jesus effortlessly
holding the world in the palm of His hand.
That’s the choice you have today. You can carry the weight
of the world as you strain to get yourself through this financial storm, or you
can say, “Lord, help me. I don’t want to go alone.” Which will it be for you?
Trust Him — He will never fail you.
THOMAS LINDBERG, D.Min., is the pastor of First Assembly of
God of Memphis in Cordova, Tenn.
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