These feelings plague us all; I hope it is of some comfort to know that you are not alone! I know, I know, sometimes that is no comfort, but if you apply it correctly it is. Here is what I mean; God is with us in those darkest moments of stress! We are not alone!
I believe that biggest and most important key to overcoming stress is trust! Total and complete trust! I know one of the biggest stressors for most of us is financial stress. It was strange for me to find this true for even the wealthiest friends I talked to. They even claim having more financial stress as they have more to be worried about. More people counting on them, depending on them and their wealth to care for so many people. So how does “trust” help us overcome “stress”? I find it here in my favorite scripture of all time …
Proverbs 3:1-10 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.[a] 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
It’s right there, v. 5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart …” v.6 “in all your ways submit to Him …” and one way we TRUST the Lord is to v.9 “Honor the Lord with your wealth …” many people hold tight to what they have and don’t even trust a portion of it to the Lord.
Now I am not talking about giving God what you might give a homeless person on the street corner, but really honoring God with a portion of your wealth. Many debate this, but I see the Bible teaching the principle of giving a tenth (tithe – 10%) to your local church (the community that you benefit from). Some interpret it different, but there is no interpretation that teaches stinginess. The Bible clearly teaches generosity!
One way I measure this in my own heart is by asking myself several questions, like, "If what I give to God was to be made public, would I be embarrassed about it?” I mean, “ … in proportion to what I earn do I feel good about what I give to God through my local church?” Another question I consider is, "if everyone in my church community gave like I did, how well would it be funded, if at all?" Not always an easy question, but again if we truly want to Trust and Honor God, then we must ask ourselves these questions. The last one I ask, because I enjoy coffee is, “Do I spend more at Starbucks each month, than I give to my local church?” Ouch! I wouldn't feel good about coming to the end of a year and having spent $500 on coffee, and only contributing $250 to my church.
Challenge: Trust God with your finances! Begin supporting the church community that you are a part of and that you find meaning from and in; contribute. Start where you can with what you can this Sunday, and I promise you will be so thrilled you did. And not only that, but when you begin to give to your church it will actually increase the love you have for the church you attend! I know at the church I pastor those who give are the ones who not only seem to be the happiest members, but the most interested in seeing it do well and fulfill God's purpose. Giving shows your love and gratitude.