OVERCOMING HARDSHIP #4: 8 WAYS TO ATTRACT GOD’S FAVOUR (To Survive Hard Times)
This is a continuation of our Overcoming Hardship Series. We have debunked the notion that one needs to do whatever it takes to survive when things are tough as far as believers are concerned. In addition, we have zeroed in on Ponzi schemes, explaining that they are investment frauds that Christians should not be involved in. We have also x-rayed the dangers of participating in these schemes. You can click on the earlier titles below to get yourself up to speed if you missed them.
This post looks at how a Christian can attract God’s favour to survive economic hardship.
8 WAYS TO ATTRACT GOD’S FAVOUR
(To Survive Hard Times)
Economic difficulties are not recent developments. From the olden days, people have fallen on hard times as a result of crop failure due to pests and droughts; military conflicts that often involved sieges, thus preventing normal economic activities; excessive taxation from cruel governments; ill health that drained resources as the sick were cared for; bad investments, etc.
We see many such examples in the Bible beginning from the book of Genesis. There were famines during the times of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fact, it was a famine that led to the relocation of Jacob’s whole family to Egypt when they learnt that Joseph, whom they had assumed dead, was the prime minister there (Genesis 12:10, 26:1, 47:1-6).
But the significant thing in each case is that God came to the aid of His people. The Bible promises in Psalm 33:18-19:
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”
Take that famine to represent severe hardship, whatever its cause. God will never abandon His people. Perhaps, you remember this popular scripture:
“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” – Psalm 34:10God always comes to the aid of those who trust Him in hard times. Click To Tweet
So here are some things we need to do and keep doing to survive economic hardship.
1. Trust in the Lord and seek His help. Do not rush to relocate: Our first action should not be to run away. The way the world’s economy is now, things are biting almost everywhere. Many countries that opened their borders freely to foreigners are tightening up. We even hear of xenophobic attacks from time to time.
Consider that you may not be better off where you are running to. And do not risk your life travelling to where God has not asked you to. My heart breaks when I hear the reports of sub-Saharan Africans perishing in the desert or in the Mediterranean Sea because they are desperate to get to Europe. Many who “make it” live in subhuman conditions in illegal squatter camps on the fringes of cities and sometimes resort to crime to survive. God can sustain you where you are until circumstances improve.Do not relocate because of hardship when God hasn't told you to. Click To Tweet
The Israelites of old had a knack for running to Egypt when they couldn’t cope at home. Isaac wanted to do so during the famine in his time but this is what happened:
“Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.'” – Genesis 26:1-3 (ESV)
Now, look at that! Isaac did move but it wasn’t to their customary refuge, Egypt. It was to the land of the Philistines and God told him to sit out the famine there. If you read further, you’ll see that Isaac didn’t feel the distress of that time. I doubt he would have had it so good if he had rushed to Egypt.
Don’t do things because others are doing them. What works for one might not work for another. Always consult God and put your confidence in Him. He will not disappoint you.
2. Get a means of livelihood no matter how humble: The Bible promises that God will bless the work of our hands (Deuteronomy 28:12). But we need to be doing something for this promise to be fulfilled. You may not find work equivalent to your qualification. You may have to do blue, instead of white collar work. You may learn or practise a craft when you already have a degree. Don’t be discouraged. There’s no shame in doing work that ensures your sustenance. Some brethren start small catering or baking services out of home. These ventures often become so lucrative that they stop seraching for jobs.
And whatever work you accept, do it as unto the Lord. Do not shirk your responsibilities because the pay is small. Your diligent handling of your duties will be rewarded by the Lord in His time and way.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)
A sister in the Lord accepted a junior clerical position after searching unsuccessfully for a suitable job. It was about four pay grades below what she deserved but she worked conscientiously and a few years later, she was converted as they say in bureaucratic circles. Today, she is the Head of Administration in the same office.
Idleness is not an option for a child of God. Hear Paul’s admonition in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12:
“Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.’ Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.” – (NLT)
Do not resort to begging either except you absolutely have to, perhaps because you have multiple disabilities. Many people with one or two disabilities learn crafts and provide for themselves.Get a means of livelihood no matter how humble. Idleness is not for Christians. Click To Tweet
3. Avoid envy: We may miss the blessing of God when we envy other people’s positions and possessions, feeling that we are better entitled to own them. Some wise person said that God has enough blessings for everyone. So we should not begrudge others what they have because we lack. That would contravene one of the Ten Commandments:
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” – Exodus 20:17
4. Maintain a spirit of gratitude: There is so much to thank God for even in hard times and thankfulness draws down the favour of God. For example, the gift of life, good health, our families, the little we have, are all grounds for thanking God. The psalmists were very good at this as this example shows:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” – Psalm 103:1-5
Thanking God leads us to receiving His blessings as we see in Psalm 50: 14 & 15:
“Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”Avoid envy. Rather, maintain a spirit of gratitude and cultivate contentment. Click To Tweet
5. Match your expenditure to your earnings: Living a life above our means can hinder the blessings of God because it can push us to do ungodly things to maintain it. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Some people are perpetually in debt because they are “enjoying” stuff that are above their pay grade. In the institution where I work, I notice that some people arrange to buy cars shortly after they get employed. I have often declined to guarantee bank loans for such people.
I’ve also seen cases where people bought expensive electronic equipment, generators and furniture to match their neighbours’. Such competition is ungodly. In some places, traders bring their wares to offices and people pack costly clothes and accessories they shouldn’t even look twice at. A junior worker acquires a wardrobe that can only be afforded by those earning five times her salary, thus keeping herself forever in the red.
These practices reveal a lack of contentment. They are signs of greed, which the Bible condemns as a form of idolatry in Colossians 3:5.
(Check out this touching post on contentment: Either SUV or Burst.)
Besides, overspending and miring oneself in debt does not show good stewardship of the little we have from God and disqualifies us from receiving more. The Parable of the Talents in Matthew, chapter 25 and The Parable of the Ten Minas in Luke, chapter 19 clearly demonstrate this.
(To see more about who owns our money, proper stewardship of it and other issues regarding the Christian and money, read this popular post: 6 Correct Christian Views About Money.)
6. Pay your bills as soon as you can: This is related to the preceding number. Even when you don’t have much, make sincere efforts to pay your bills and trust God to see you through. Don’t live in someone’s house and refuse to pay rent or choose to pay it after much trouble.
Why it ties to the previous point is that you shouldn’t move into accommodation you can’t afford and then defer paying rent until you meet all your other needs. Do not abuse people’s good will. Some people live in rented accommodation they hardly pay for while using their resources to build their own houses. That is not progress, it is wickedness! The Bible says we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12).
7. Do not borrow money you have no intention of paying back: When things are hard, it often becomes necessary that one should seek help from friends and relatives. If we want God’s blessing on our lives, we should do this sincerely. First, we shouldn’t exaggerate our problems to get help. Second, we should make honest efforts to return what we have borrowed. We could ask for deferment of deadline, we could pay instalmentally, but we shouldn’t take people’s money and run.
Sometimes, in the process of requesting an extension of deadline, the creditor may kindly cancel the debt. Those who think they are smart and blatantly default on personal loans close doors to future assistance in their own faces.
God hates such duplicity and cannot favour the offender.
“Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.” – Proverbs 12:22
And now the last but not the least number.
8. Give: It is not only the wealthy that should give. God expects even the most humble among us to be openhanded with what He has blessed us with. When God sought for a way to sustain Elijah the prophet during the famine he declared, He sent him to the widow of Zarephath who had almost nothing. By opening her doors to share her last meal with the prophet, she received a miracle that saved her family throughout the three and half-year famine (1 Kings 17:8-16). And we can give other resources that are not material like our time, strength and abilities.God expects even the most humble among us to be openhanded. Click To Tweet
My Lord and my God, Your name is Jehovah Jireh, my provider. I put my confidence in You and pray for Your sustenance in the prevailing difficult times. The earth is Yours and everything in it. May Your favour daily meet me at the point of my need. Purify my heart from greed, envy and every form of dishonesty. May I not dishonour You to make ends meet. You are a faithful God and You will never forsake me. Thank You, Lord, for hearing me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The scriptures in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.
The next post in this series will examine how we can prosper (flourish) in hard times.
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