Today I face yet another chapter in a long saga of car repairs. And, as I’m sure you know, car repairs are not cheap.
Every time my car has broken in some way over the past nine months, I immediately feel surrounded by a cloud of frustration and stress. Yes, there is the hassle of not having my car and trying to get where I need to go, but my parents usually let me borrow one of theirs. Yes, I have to try to figure out just what the mechanic is saying is wrong with the radiator hoses/PCM/window regulator/fill in the blank. But thanks to Google and my dad, that’s not the worst thing ever.
What really gets to me though is the money. Every time I have to get my car fixed for some reason, I want to cry because of how much it’s going to cost.
College is giving me similar anxiety. The school I’m going to comes with a high price tag (as do most colleges these days) and while the financial aid will help, it won’t take it down nearly as much as I would like.
And here I am, eighteen years old, working at a great hourly rate for someone my age, and worrying about money.
And here I am, eighteen years old, knowing I shouldn’t worry about anything.
I am so blessed. In the long run, this obnoxious car will probably not ruin me financially. I’ll make it through college too. My parents have taught me to budget and to be frugal and to save better than many parents do. I work hard and know what path I want to take to a career and higher pay.
But the real reason I shouldn’t worry is because my Heavenly Father says not to. “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:5b-7
That has been one of my favorite verses for a long time because it is one that I need to be told so often. We are not told to lay aside anxiety and worry just because God said so (although that is a good enough reason to do anything). We are to hand over our worries to God because He can and will take care of them. And that includes money worries.
Matthew 6:24 says “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
We usually use this verse to remind ourselves not to get caught up in trying to be rich. But it applies just as much to the times when we’re concerned over other money matters – like car repairs. I think Paul put the concept of contentment very well later in Philippians:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13
Paul faced much more serious need than many of us in more privileged countries do today, though we all face being brought low at different times in our lives, whatever the circumstances may be. And he was able to praise God through it all. He knew the secret of contentment.
Often, we don’t like to talk about money. It makes us uncomfortable to know that we make more or less than someone else or to think about struggling to meet some need or whether we’re doing the right thing with the resources given to us. But I think the exhortation to be content is one that we all need, especially in the area of money. So many people around us are wrapped up in how to make more money and how to save it or spend it for optimum pleasure. It’s hard to escape the pull to dive into the same concerns and obsessions.
We are stewards of the money we have, whether much or little. God has given a portion to each and we must be faithful with that portion. But we must not worry over that portion. I know that is something I continually need to hear and learn and I know I am not alone.
Money doesn’t have to be stressful. God will take our worry. Surrendering the money and the worry to God will not be easy, but it will be worth so much more than any number in a bank account.