By Sarah Logan, Contributing Writer
I’d like to share a few thoughts on trusting God during difficult financial times and how that applies to the marriage relationship. I have no leg to stand on when it comes to talking about tips for financial planning, or ideas for investing or long-term financial goals as a couple. I’ll leave that to someone else to address. But I do have a lot of experience in the faith category.
If you’ve heard of George Mueller and his life of faith – trusting God for all provision for the orphanage he started – you will catch a glimpse of great faith, and great courage. I happened to marry a George Mueller type, and though I now am very grateful at first I was in shock. Sam would say things like, “In Africa they just put a plank of wood on two huge rocks to sit on. So, why do we need a couch?” Or, “When it comes to investing, I like to invest in Heavenly stock rather than earthly markets.” Or, “Maybe we should just give all our excess funds away and trust God to provide for our future.”
Needless to say, these comments didn’t sit well with me. We argued. We pulled out our Bibles and prepared lengthy sermons for each other on different perspectives of financial planning throughout Scripture. Want a glimpse of that? Okay, here goes:
“Abraham left his country with no idea where he was going – all because He was trusting God to lead and provide.”
“Yeah, but he was the richest guy in his vicinity. He took bucket loads of his stuff and had a mini-empire to caravan with him.”
“Proverbs talks about the ant – go study his ways and be wise – he stores for the winter, so shouldn’t we store away for our future years?”
“Look at the context – it’s talking about lazy people – do you think I’ll ever be lazy? No. So it isn’t specifically commanding us to save for retirement, or college, or whatever.”
“Jesus didn’t even have a place to lay his head. Do you think we should have more/better than He did?!”
“Well, yes, actually, I do. Did you notice he was hosted many times by people who must’ve had a guest room – and provided a place for Him to lay His head – did you ever think of that? I’d like to be one of those hospitable types who provides places for people to lay their heads!”
And on, and on, ad nauseum – it went – back and forth between us.
At some point, however, I became convicted of a few things I tended to fail to mention to Sam in these debates. Because in all our arguing, God the Holy Spirit was working in my heart to change me from the inside. I came to realize that we could argue our whole life long about finances and how they should be run, and we could exhaust every nuance of Scripture, down to chapter, verse and Greek translation to support our view. I had to concede that Scripture isn’t specific as to exactly how each home should run its finances. I had to see that there was potential for diversity in these matters. And, painful as it was, I had to see that my specific view of things wasn’t necessarily the only right way. Oh, how it hurt to admit it.
Because while we can go back and forth on planning versus giving versus planning to give versus throw-caution-to-the-wind and live radical lives – we cannot fail in seeing what is plainly clear in Scripture. I was led to these verses in 1 Peter 3:1-6:
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives...
This is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
I didn’t have much to argue about when I looked at Sarah. She submitted her will to her husband – not out of trust of him, but out of trust in God. The temptation for her, and for me many times, is to fear. If we give way to fear we stand on slippery ground. The call in all these matters – whether from saving or giving or living high or low – is a call to faith – to trust God for all we need.
For wives, this may mean putting our opinions and desires carefully aside. I believe it is right to voice our concerns, and to live with circumspect wisdom. But beyond that (of course barring extreme situations involving abuse and such), we are to trust in God to oversee not only our finances but the heart of our husbands.
For husbands, this may mean listening to your wife’s concerns and seeking God to lead you with the thought in mind that your call is to self-sacrificial love for her – even if it means living in a way different to what you would selfishly prefer. If a wife has been so noble as to give up her way, her preferences, her ideas, her opinions – out of respect for her husband – don’t you think you, as a husband, could graciously give her more room for her desires, more grace, more care, more of yourself? Selfless love wins in the end. Your marriage will be the better for it, if you honor your wife and see that her thoughts and ideas are heard, respected and worth your time and interest.
And in our case, that is exactly what happened. I saw that Scripture was clear in it’s directive to wives. And I told Sam I would be willing to follow his lead, even if it wasn’t my first choice. And initially I was tempted to fear. But I prayed and told God my trust was in Him, not in my husband. And as time went on, Sam changed too. He saw the wisdom in a measure of planning. And in that process, I changed! Here we are 13 years later and I often find myself arguing from Sam’s initial perspective of ‘give more, live radically’ and he is giving more thought to the future!
I know it doesn’t work out that way in every case. Each couple has different dynamics. But there is joy in the journey to unity and putting your spouse above your financial ideals goes a long way to bringing stability and wholeness in the relationship. In the midst of many arguments we would sometimes have to remind ourselves that we’re married first and financial gurus second (or not at all! )As you look at finances in marriage, just be reminded simply that:
- God is in control.
- You can trust Him.
- He is far wiser than you realize.
- He is faithful.
- He listens and answers prayer.
- You don’t need to have it your way.
- And then, go from there to pursuing oneness in all things in your marriage!
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