As human beings, we place value on many things and live our lives in the pursuit of those things we deem to be of value. For most, that means money. I learned a few things about money and economies. I spent almost ten years in the financial services industry in financial planning.
Wars are fought over money. Relationships are lost over money. Integrity is compromised over money. I believe that this is because people consider money to be of greater value than intangible things.
I have seen families split apart over the settlement of an estate. I have seen ministries compromised because of greed. I have seen two people who once loved each other become bitter enemies because of selfishness. I have seen corruption in court because of money.
I am not speaking rhetorically. I have seen these things with my eyes and experienced them in my life.
I will not dispute that money is necessary. World economies "turn" on money. Yet, there is a another economy. Jesus spoke of it in Matthew 6 above.
I have experienced things in recent years that I could never have imagined going through just a decade ago. I have experienced divorce. I have watched my wife be diagnosed with cancer and breathe her last breath as I held her hand. I was compelled to begin action to change my son's domestic circumstances that resulted in a bitter legal conflict that lasted over three years and went to the Supreme Court of my state before being resolved. (He is now safe at home with me.)
I have experienced financial circumstances that I never would have imagined having to endure (because of the previous and other situations.) I have watched trusted friends turn away. I have been lied to, lied about, stolen from, treated disrespectfully, and taken advantage of. I have been intentionally and viciously attacked without provocation. I have been abandoned by people I thought genuinely cared for me. I have endured rejection, betrayal, manipulation, and profiteering. I have been misunderstood, misrepresented, misquoted, and misaligned.
Why am I saying these things? Do I want your pity? Do I want your sympathy? "NO!" And again I say, "NO!".
I want you to understand that in all these experiences, I had a choice as to how I responded. I could have become bitter and could have angrily questioned God as to why these things were happening to me. Or I could turn to Him and question Him as to what He wanted me to understand through them.
As in most challenges in life, it comes down to a choice for God or against Him, to respond as Jesus or respond as a selfish self-interested man, to believe that God meant exactly what He said and trust Him and His promises absolutely, or panic, feel abandoned by Him, and take matters into my own hands.
These experiences have built things in me that nothing -- absolutely nothing else -- could have built. They have been the catalyst that has brought about a deeper relationship with God, a more complete trust in all that He has promised, and an absolute certainty that He will never forsake me, no, never!
I know things now that I could not have known before or learned any other way. Those difficulties and challenges have become precious to me. So much so, that if I could this day cause them never to have happened, I would not now do so. I would not give up what those experiences, and my responses to them, have built and established in me.
I now understand more of what Paul meant when he said,