When I was in the dark valley that I mentioned to you in Part 1 of this series, things were really hard financially.
I mean really, really hard.
We were paying for 3 pieces of real estate, two of which had regular maintenance expenses. Mortgages, plus the electric bill, plus repairs, plus all manner of other things.
Before the nightmare started, we had developed specific financial goals. We were (and still are) living extremely frugally, and we had a path laid out before us that would take us into a wonderfully-prosperous place financially. A place where we could build the life we wanted.
Well, as you can imagine, that all went out the door after the 3-mortgage nightmare started.
It didn't go out the door quietly, either. It was painful. Every week, every month, as the bills rolled in, our dreams rolled out that door.
With screams and bleeding and moaning and sobbing and wailing. We were gutted.
It was hard.
But as the Lord began to change my heart during that season, teaching me that man does not live by bread alone–but by every word that proceeds from His mouth, He taught me one of the five keys that I know He had to work in my heart.
Key #2 to finding peace in the valley is this: give anyway.
It was a financial storm, so naturally we wanted to retain any money we could–not give it away. I felt that whatever money we had was all that we had, and we needed to keep it. We didn't have much, but I can assure you that giving away what we did have was the last thing I wanted to do.
And you know what?
That's exactly when the Lord said to give.
Either Jesus is the Lord of our lives, or He’s not. There is no halfway with Christ. And if we're going to have any of Him, we've got to take all of Him.
Including the part of Him that tells me HE is my Provider; my bank account is NOT my provider.
It's a tough lesson to learn, but it's one we all have to learn if we're going to find peace in the valley and, eventually, walk OUT of the valley.
The Bible says God owns it all, including the money in what I call my bank account. Our money is not really our money—it’s God’s money.
Haggai 2:8 says:
‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
Psalm 24:1 tells us that everything belongs to God:
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”
Howard Dayton, co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries, wrote a powerful book called Your Money Counts: The Biblical Guide to Earning, Spending, Saving, Investing, Giving, and Getting Out of Debt (affiliate link). In that book, he stated:
The Lord is the Creator of all things, and He has never transferred the ownership of His creation to people. In Colossians 1:17 we are told that “In Him all things hold together.”
At this very moment the Lord literally holds everything together by His power. Recognizing God’s ownership is critical in allowing Jesus Christ to become the Lord of our money and possessions.”
Dayton later quotes a passage by the late Larry Burkett, the other co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries. He states:
Outstanding author Larry Burkett observed, “When we acknowledge God’s ownership, every spending decision becomes a spiritual decision. No longer do we ask, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do with my money?’ The question is restated, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do with Your money?’”
When we have this perspective, spending and saving decisions are equally as spiritual as giving decisions.”
In a different book, entitled Stories of True Financial Freedom: God’s Impact in Real Lives (affiliate link), Dayton lists five important keys to financial freedom, straight from the Bible:
1. “God owns everything” (from Psalm 24:1).
2. “We are to be faithful managers of all God entrusts to us” (from 1 Corinthians 4:2).
3. “We must recognize and yield to God’s control of our finances” (from 1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
4. “Faithfulness with money requires self-control, and God provides it” (from Galatians 5:22-23).
5. “Celebrate each step as you make steady progress” (from Psalm 145:7).
Beloveds, we have to get a deep, gut-level revelation of these five truths in order to really say that God is Lord over every area of our lives–including our finances.
When we are going through hard times, we may be tempted to think we have a choice in how to handle money—and we do.
We can either handle it God’s way, or not—but there is no middle ground. We must give when God says to give. And specifically, God says we should tithe and bring Him offerings.
Malachi 3:8-12 states:
‘Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,' says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
‘And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,' says the LORD of hosts; and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts.”
The problem is that, when times are hard, we may not want to tithe and offer.
However, just like we don’t get a vote on whether God should be worshipped or not, we also don’t get a vote on whether we want to tithe and offer or not.
When God tells us to give—which He has clearly done—we must obey. And if we confess Christ Jesus as Lord, we do not have the right to tell Him no.
What's my testimony?
Even during our storm, although we didn't love giving, my husband and I knew we had to give. Therefore, even through the darkest of times, we kept right on tithing and bringing our offerings to the Lord.
Some of those offerings hurt, too. When I saw money going out the door—even if I knew it was for God—sometimes I got a little ‘tic’ in my ‘security gland’ … but I can look back now and honestly say that that was good for me.
Nevertheless, our security does not rest in our bank balance, but in the Living God—and He never failed us once. He'll never fail you, either.
I count it a supreme privilege to have been granted the opportunity to give sacrificially to the Lord while He walked me through the valley of the shadow of death.
As we obeyed Him, He changed our hearts to trust Him more. And eventually, He walked us right on out of that valley into a wide and happy place.
What valley are you walking through today? Are you tempted to hang onto every penny?
If you are, know that that temptation is from the enemy, not from God. When God tells you to give, no matter how difficult things are, beloved: we must give.
It's a Lordship issue. And if you'll make Jesus the Lord of your life in every area, you'll find He's worth it–and faithful to provide–every time.
Does this word resonate in your heart today? If so, please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
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Recommended resources: Howard Dayton's book Your Money Counts: The Biblical Guide to Earning, Spending, Saving, Investing, Giving, and Getting Out of Debt was so very helpful to me. Also, his story of real people's testimonies, entitled Stories of True Financial Freedom: God's Impact in Real Lives, inspired me.
And from a practical perspective, Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness is the most life-changing financial book I've ever read. Get Dayton's books to really understand the heart-change that will see you through. But then get The Total Money Makeover to carry it out and walk to financial freedom.