Over the past few years, God has called my husband and I to minister to people who are in financial crisis. We cringe at the mistakes we have made over the years but are thankful that God has used those mistakes to teach us some very valuable lessons and has given us the privilege of helping other people who find themselves where we have been. It has been a long, hard road back to where we should have been and it has been a road with some major detours due to illness and unemployment butGod has been faithful when we have obediently followed the plan He has laid out for us.
The last part is key and it is often where we stumble. We do not obey God and then we have the audacity to cry out, "I asked God to help me but He didn't!" God is our helper and our deliverer but have you ever noticed how often He required an action before the fulfillment of a promise? Abraham had to obey God and pack up and leave his homeland. He had to trust God even when everything seemed to indicate that God could not or would not give him a son as promised. This promise was not fulfilled in a few moments or even days or weeks. It was years before Abraham saw the fulfillment of this promise. Moses had to face Pharaoh not once but numerous times. When they stood on the border of the Promised Land the first time, they were denied entrance. Why? Because of their disobedience due to a lack of faith.
In the area of finances, I have seen too many people who realize they have a problem and they say that they want to change. The problem is, they are unwilling to be obedient and ignore wise counsel. They want things to be "fixed" immediately so they can continue down that same path, doing the same things that got them into their mess in the first place. If you keep doing the same old things, you will end up in the same old place.
We once counseled a couple who had actually received a scholarship to take the course we lead on finances. They had lost their home several years before due to financial trouble and had been served an eviction notice from their current landlord because they had not paid their rent for several months. The husband did not earn enough money for them to pay for their basic expenses plus their minimum debt payments and the wife had just quit yet another part time job (she'd had several that year but would quit after just a few weeks because she didn't "like it" and wanted to stay home). I should add that the children 15 and 11 so this was not a case of needing to stay home to care for the children. All of these part time jobs took place while the children were at school. With a straight face, the husband asked us if we thought he should take on a second job. They were also lamenting that they could not take their children to Disney World and were trying to figure out a way to make it happen.I am not against taking your children to Disney World but I do not think it should be at the top of your to-do-list when you are about to be homeless!
Their plan was basically to pray that God would move upon someone to write them a big check. We go to a large church so presumably they thought it would be from the church. Instead, the church sent them to us for financial counseling and told them they would pay for them to take an endorsed class in how to become debt-free and manage their finances.
They had a very busy schedule. We hadn't set up our fall class yet so we had them look at their calendar and decide what night of the week would be best for them and which week it would begin. We were flexible and we really wanted to accomodate this couple. They set a day and a date, we posted the class and you guessed it, they didn't sign up. They had decided to have a garage sale instead.
The last time I saw them was around last Christmas. The husband who had eventually lost his job,had been confident a few months earlier that he would get the job he had applied for. He didn't and he was still unemployed. The unemployment was going to run out soon. His wife was not working either but they were still hopeful they could scrape up enough money to go to Disney World.
As his wife came up, I mentioned that we would be starting up another class in February. They smiled brightly and said they were going to have another garage sale as soon as the weather got better.I turned away with a heavy heart. God had given them good minds and strong bodies so that they could work to earn their daily bread. There were two of them so even if one of them had to take on additional work for awhile, the home and children could still be cared for. Someone was willing to pay for them to attend a class on how to get out of and stay out of debt as well as how to better manage the money they had. God had answered their prayer. He had provided them with the necessary tools to fix their problem but they didn't want to use them. They wanted Him to do it for them.
There are times when God needs to do something for us. The problem really is too big for us to handle and when it is, God is standing by ready to take it in hand. Sometimes though, we really are "big enough" to do the job. God ensures that we have all the necessary materials to complete the task but He expects us to pick up the tools He has supplied us with and use them. How good it is to work under God's supervision! We learn so much as we work beside Him and that is exactly why God does it that way. It is what a good parent does. They teach their children. A poor parent requires nothing of their child and does everything for them. God is not a poor father. He is a good father.
When we have asked God for help and it seems like our prayer goes unanswered we need to ask ourselves this question, "Am I doing the things God told me to do?"