"There is nothing--no circumstance, no trouble, no testing--that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret--for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is!--That is the rest of victory!" Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living
Struggles. Life is full of them. I can list my share and I am sure that every single person reading this can list even more of their own. It is the human condition of life here on this earth. We struggle; we have hardships. Others may have lives who look really great from the outside, but no one's life is without difficulty. I think the test of a person's character is how they react in the midst of bad times.
One of my ongoing struggles is in the area of finances (or the lack of them to be exact). No matter how hard I try to cut expenses, we always seem to be right on the edge of making it. This has been the situation for several years and it just seems to be getting worse. What is the phrase - squeezing blood from a turnip? That's what I constantly feel like I am trying to do when I take our income and try to stretch it everywhere it needs to go.
We have drastically cut our expenses. It is rare that we eat out. I don't even buy convenience food from the grocery because of the expense. Instead we cook from scratch. New, store-bought clothes don't even exist in our house unless they were a gift. Rummage sales and thrift stores are the norm. My husband may take the older kids to a movie once a year. We may go out on a date to a restaurant 2 or 3 times in an entire year. Our family vacations consist of an overnight 1 or 2 times a year. We don't buy hardly anything beyond the necessities. I even feel extravagant when I buy homeschool curriculum.
I long for a day when I can just relax a little bit with our spending. My hubby and I were discussing this hardship last night. I was trying to remember this quote from above here. It made me realize that these struggles have taught me so much. It has forced me into realizing that many of our so called needs are merely wants. I find it a comfort to know that God is ultimately in control of our difficult circumstances - to know that He had to give approval for them. Trials are what cause us to grow spiritually. I cannot deny that doing without has grown me. As painful as this is, I wouldn't trade the experience. But I would be lying if I didn't admit that I regularly tell God that in my opinion I have learned enough already. [wink] Hubby brought up that perhaps God has in mind to give us monetary blessings in the future to use for His glory and He needs us to learn frugality and better money management. That is a nice thought; I hope he is right. On the other hand I fear that God desires to teach us much more and we are going to have to sacrifice much more as a result. I wonder how much more we can eliminate from our budget before it means a drastic life change. I question how well I could handle it if it came to giving up my home. That would be heartbreaking.
So, I continue to put my reliance each day on God to provide. He may not do things my way, but He has never let us down and has often come through in unexpected ways. I seek His wisdom and guidance to do everything I can to be a good steward of all that He has given me. I "refuse to get panicky" as the quote above says. Instead I trust in the goodness of the God I serve.