Many people, including many readers of this blog, are facing some level of financial uncertainty right now because of the coronavirus crisis. These are challenging times, and you may find yourself worrying, and wondering what the future might hold. I believe one of the best things we can do to find encouragement and perspective in times like these is to start by remembering God’s ownership.
From beginning to end, Scripture repeatedly emphasizes God’s ownership of everything:
“To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it” (Deuteronomy 10:14).
“The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants” (Leviticus 25:23).
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
“Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:11).
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” (Psalm 24:1-2).
“For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Psalm 50:10-12).
“‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (Haggai 2:8).
Not only does God own everything, but He grants us our money-making skills and determines how much of His wealth He will entrust to us:
“Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18, NIV).
“The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up” (1 Samuel 2:7, NKJV).
In my books Money, Possessions, and Eternity and Managing God’s Money, I share how a distraught man furiously rode his horse up to John Wesley, shouting, “Mr. Wesley, Mr. Wesley, something terrible has happened. Your house has burned to the ground!” Weighing the news for the moment, Wesley replied, “No. The Lord’s house burned to the ground. That means one less responsibility for me.”
Wesley’s response wasn’t the sanctimonious reply of someone who thought I’d be quoting his words hundreds of years later. We might say, “Get real,” but his reaction didn’t stem from a denial of reality. Rather, it sprang from life’s most basic reality—that God is the owner of all things, and we are simply His stewards. When we realize our possessions belong to God and not us, it removes from us the burden of worry or despair. What we value most, the treasures we will enjoy for eternity, are in Heaven, not on earth.
In Reflections of God’s Glory, Corrie ten Boom, who traveled the world speaking and sharing about God’s love, said, “My finances are always in the realm of God’s miracles. He is my heavenly treasurer. When I need money—and I often do—I say to Him, ‘Father in Heaven, in the Bible it says that you have cattle on a thousand hills. That’s quite a lot. Will you sell Your cows and give me the money?’ He always does so.”
If we believe that God can create us, redeem us, and bring us through death to spend eternity with Him, why can’t we take Him at His word when He says He’ll provide for our material needs? “The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need” (Psalm 23:1, CSB). (God wants an opportunity either to provide for our needs or to show us that they aren’t really needs.)
Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [what you eat, drink, and wear] will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Unlike the pagans who “run after all these things” and “worry about tomorrow,” believers are told to follow Christ, live a radical life of faith, and trust God to provide (Matthew 6:25-34). In this passage, Jesus says that God cares for the birds. Yet birds aren’t created in God’s image. Christ didn’t die for birds. The Holy Spirit doesn’t indwell birds. Birds won’t reign with Christ. But we will! So Christ asks His disciples, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26). If He takes care of the less valuable creatures, will He not take care of us, who are far more valuable?
If God calls on you today to share your resources with another, you must not say, “I can’t, Lord, because I don’t know where my own provisions are coming from.” Yes, you do know where they’re coming from. They’re coming from God, the owner of all. You may not know the form this provision will take, but you do know the Source. Like the poor widow who had no cash reserves, you know that God will take care of you, even if there are no visible resources. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t face hardship, including financial difficulties and pressures. It does mean that you can trust Him.
Financial concerns can help us evaluate what our real hope is in. All of us trust in something. The more dependable the object of our trust and hope, the less we need to worry. The stock market isn’t God, the Wall Street Journal isn’t the Bible, your asset manager isn’t your pastor, and financial experts aren’t prophets. (Prophets were put to death when their prophecies didn’t come true!) That doesn’t mean the stock market is bad, but it does mean it’s not trustworthy. It may do well for a day, a month, a year, or even a few decades. But because the stock market is uncertain, it can only produce anxiety when it becomes the object of our trust. God is the only totally trustworthy object. Therefore, He’s the only one who cannot betray our trust.
The Apostle Paul says that the rich should not “put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but . . . in God, who richly provides” (1 Timothy 6:17). The one whose greatest riches are deposited in the bank will be destroyed when the banks fail, as will the farmer whose greatest asset is in crops when the crops fail or when the commodity markets fall. In contrast, the one whose hope is in God will be devastated only if God fails—and He never does.
Elliot Clark writes in Evangelism as Exiles: Life on Mission as Strangers in Our Land,
Hope for the Christian isn’t just confidence in a certain, glorious future. It’s hope in a present providence. It’s hope that God’s plans can’t be thwarted by local authorities or irate mobs, by unfriendly bosses or unbelieving husbands, by Supreme Court rulings or the next election. The Christian hope is that God’s purposes are so unassailable that a great thunderstorm of events can’t drive them off course. Even when we’re wave-tossed and lost at sea, Jesus remains the captain of the ship and the commander of the storm.
Consider these verses from the Psalms, reminding us to put our hope in God:
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you” (Psalm 39:7).
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. … For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:1-2, 5).
“The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:14-19).
May the truth of God’s ownership of all, His providence over everything, and His promise to provide for His children’s needs help you completely put your hope in Him, whatever the coming days, weeks, and months may bring.
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.