Just one more thing: Lessons of poverty
Let's face it, making ends meet is not always easy. God certainly does promise to provide for all our needs and even to bless us with more than our needs require — when such a blessing is good for us.
But such a blessing may not always be the best thing. Sometimes what we need for our own character development may be a test — like a period of economic rough sledding. Financial trials, like any other kind of trial, can be clouds with silver linings if we face them with a positive attitude and seek to learn lessons from them.
To illustrate, notice the positive approach expressed in the following letter to The Plain Truth. The author is a Church member who, at the time she wrote this, was a "spiritual widow" that is to say, her husband was not a member:
"Just a few days after reading [a Plain Truth article about financial difficulties] I came across a paper I had written to myself several years ago entitled, 'Lessons We Learned in Poverty: There are eight points, but before I share them with you, let me give you a little background information.
"I married at age 16, my husband had not completed high school. We had three children before our fifth anniversary. I was baptized when I was twenty... We were on welfare. It was a slow process, but we have been married fourteen years in July, and God has richly blessed us!"
And then she continues with:
Lessons we learned in poverty 1. Trust God, put Him first pay tithes no matter how small.
2. Stay out of debt, do with out but don't charge it.
3. Live within your conditions whatever they are. Find what you have, what you can do; it will be more than you think. (I learned to quilt, make clothes, garden, can. My work was never prize-winning quality, but I learned because I had to!)
4. Do the best you can with what you have. Find a use for everything. (Even garbage can improve your garden, and rags can replace expensive paper towels.)
5. Plan your future; everyone needs a dream.
6. Be willing to sacrifice to reach your dream. (We put 25 cents a week in a jar; that was a small way. We lived without heat or running water to buy our first house; that was a big sacrifice.)
7. Work on a contented, cheerful, thankful attitude.
8. Look for someone you can help somehow. Visit a nursing home, write letters, smile, talk to someone who looks lonely, give homemade gifts when you can and give your widow's mite.
Going over these points from time to time helps to remind me to keep them ever fresh on my mind.
One other thing I learned both while in hard financial times and when blessed: It is hard sometimes to be on the receiving side of service, harder on some people than others. These suggestions have helped me:
1. Be gracious, be thankful, always appreciate the thoughtfulness.
2. If an object is given, put it to the best possible use.
3. Never refuse to allow another to serve or give to you — don't rob others of the blessing of giving.
4. Remember: Those who receive also serve. Through your act of receiving another is blessed. Their future generosity to others may be influenced by your reaction...
She concluded, "Thank you for the opportunity to share some of what God has taught me through difficult circumstances!"
Positive approach In other words, instead of letting financial problems — or any other kind of problem — discourage and dismay us, we should look on trials more positively than we often do. They are challenges. They are opportunities to grow and build character. If we look at them that way, God will see us through.
My dear brothers and sisters, is your life full of difficulties and problems? Let us live James' admonition.
"Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort, or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4, The Amplified Bible).