He was worried. He had been a well paid executive manager for years and had climbed the corporate ladder to a salary of $300,000 a year. His outlook had been positive and his future secure. Then the market crash came. Now he was out of a job and watching his savings rapidly disappear. He was stressed and worried and his blood pressure was way too high.
We talked about life, financial security and what the future might hold. He was in the midst of a job search but had no solid leads. He expressed concern that he might lose his home if he did not find a suitable job but then talked about his faith and how he was trusting God to help him through the difficult times.
“But what if He doesn’t?” I asked. He was surprised by my question. I explained that while I often hear people talk about trusting God for material blessing and support through difficult times I wasn’t sure that He had promised the level of support people hoped for. Here in America when we think about our "needs" we think of keeping our houses and having a good paying job. In poorer parts of the world people pray for the true necessities of life such as a meal and safety. I shared that what we would consider terrible would be anything but for most people on the planet.
“What is the worst thing that could happen to you?" I asked, "Losing your house and winding up living in a one bedroom apartment in Santa Ana flipping burgers for a living? There are people dodging Border Patrol agents and coyotes for an opportunity like that!” I shared that a one bedroom apartment in Santa Ana would be an answer to prayer for many people in the world.
He paused for a moment, “You’re right,” was his simple reply. As we talked I reminded him that none of the difficulties he currently faced threatened any of the things that mattered most in his life such as his faith or his relationships with his family.
I think about our conversation often, usually when I hear someone's prayer request. It causes me to reflect on what really matters in my life and reminds me not to cling too tightly to my “stuff.” I remember that Lisa and I aren’t really any happier now than we were when we were living in an apartment and barely making ends meet. Back then we found joy in trips to the laundry and cooking meals together. We lived paycheck to paycheck and scrounged up loose change for trips to McDonalds, but we were happy. Even now we realize that our best times are our best times because of who we are with and not because of what we have. True joy comes from our family and not our possessions.
I am also reminded of the danger of putting too much emphasis on what happens in this life. When all is said and done and I am called to give account for my life my financial achievements will not matter at all but the love I gave and the sacrifices I made for others will. Like all men I well be measure by the content of my heart and not the contents of my bank account.