Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth — Mike Tyson.
Life can be funny at times. Not funny like Jim Gaffigan funny but absurd and ludicrous.
We can follow all of the “rules” and do everything that we are “supposed” to do and still face financial difficulties.
The high school counselor indicated that college was a great idea so we went. There were ample opportunities for advantageous internships and we willingly participated. Lucrative job offers rolled in before graduation. Wow, this life thing seems super easy. Why did our parents warn us about the difficulties of life? We are confident that “things” are different than when our parents began their careers. It’s the 21st century and the rules must certainly be different.
The great job in hand has lulled us into an unhealthy state of hubris. Student loan debt is manageable and an MBA would be like rocket fuel to our career. We enroll to take the next step. Plus, we get to stop paying on our undergrad loans while in grad school. Our employer has also agreed to pay $5,250 per year towards grad school. Don’t you see how smart we are?
Our friends are all buying condos in the city and we’re certain we can make the payment. It will be tight, but, hey don’t property values always increase? We convince ourselves that it is an intelligent investment. We’re super smart or did you forget?
We have it all figured out! What could possibly go wrong?
What’s The Plan, Stan?
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, life hits us square in the mouth! We didn’t see the ferocious left hook and we were totally caught off guard by the punishing blow. Our invincibility crumbles.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Can we even get up or are we going down for the count? This certainly cannot be our fault! We played by the rules and life simply is not fair. There must be someone to blame.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8, ESV).
In my post last month I wrote about the philosophy of human tradition (folklore). It’s easy to get caught up in traditions that are not entirely Biblical. Letting go of traditions that do not pass the Word test can still be challenging.
In this post I am sharing about the philosophy of the elemental spirits of the world (fatalism).
Every person reading this article will have the opportunity to be victimized financially. We get to choose, however, whether or not to identify as victims. Victimization is beyond our control but identifying as a victim is fully within our control. Most of us have been passed over for a promotion, turned down for a job, outsourced, right-sized, down-sized or fired. These things rarely happen at the most optimum time. Yet we must deal with these situations when they arise.
When we latch onto victimhood we do a few things. By identifying as a victim we subtly deny the divinity and sovereignty of God. We also can exalt our problems above the Lordship of Christ.
I was raised by a single mom. Our dad stopped paying child-support early in the divorce. This created a serious cash flow issue in our home. Did this unfortunate event catch God off guard? Nope. It was an opportunity for my mom to overcome.
Our problems, perplexities, trials and tribulations are not Lord — Jesus is Lord. We must carefully avoid exalting these things. The issues are legitimate but they are not Lord.
Victim Or Victor
Blaming the company, politicians, the boss, or anything else might salve our wounds initially but there is no healing or redemptive power in victimhood. God fully expects us to overcome setbacks. Honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised when they happen. If anything we should be surprised that they do not occur more often.
It’s currently quite popular to blame others for our hardships. Victimization has become a competition and even an art form to some. It, victimization, is the philosophy of the elemental spirits of the world. God’s Word never classifies us as victims but as victors, and as more than conquerors. No one said our lives would be easy or fair. Jesus was honest about the difficulty of life.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33, ESV).
Do you notice what Jesus did not say? He did not say that He would eradicate the adversity. He told us to simply “take heart.” We still need to overcome these difficult situations.
Peter was called out individually for some private tribulation.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:31-32, ESV).
Jesus informed Peter that he would be sifted. Our Lord did not prevent the sifting but prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. Peter crashed and burned and denied Jesus shortly after that conversation. The sifting took place. Why do we expect a life free of adversity?
Life Is Challenging
We don’t need to look for hardships or adversity because it will find us. James encouraged us to tweak our expectations in times of great challenge. He indicated that we should “count it all joy” when we fall into various trials!
There will be times when we get punched in the mouth financially and we will get back up quickly. At other times we will experience a financial knock out punch. What’s a brother or sister to do in these situation?
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me (Micah 7:8)
I’ve experienced dozens of serious, financial hardships. As a kid we endured times with no water or heat. I can recall the only thing to eat was flour and brown mustard. We made johnny cakes (flour & water) and had mustard sandwiches. Christmas and birthdays gifts were sparse and rare. As an adult we had similar issues. Our parents trained us to give money but not how to manage it. It took a few years but we, by the Grace of God, figured things out.
When we take a financial blow and get knocked down we simply must get back up if we can. It’s imperative to learn from these painful mistakes. Don’t put your chin where that fist is headed!
What if we get knocked out cold, financially?
That’s when we “sit in darkness” and cry out to the Most High God! He promised, according to Micah 7:8, to be a light to us. God can handle the difficult questions. Allow Him to be a light to you. Speak to Him. Climb into His lap and pour out your anguish to Him.
No More Tears
Have you ever experienced a “no more tears” moment?
Perhaps you were laid off and had to go home and inform your wife—who happens to be 7-months pregnant. Or maybe a loud beeping sound awakened you and as you looked out the window you detected your car being repossessed. The job loss lasted so long that the house could not be saved and you had to move in with a relative. These are heart-wrenching situations that happen every single day to someone.
King David had a “no more tears” moment. He and his forces were fighting a battle. While they were gone, a group of bandits invaded their camp and burned it to the ground. All of the women & children were kidnapped. We read in I Samuel 30:1-6 that David and the other men wept until they had no more power to weep. The tears were dry and the pain settled into a very difficult situation. What did the king do?
Encouraged Or Discouraged
David encouraged himself in the Lord. That word encouraged is actually a military word. David became more militant. After the tears have stopped we need to seek God and become militant in the financial realm! Military experts are strategic, tough, relentless, and courageous. Discouragement is an outside force based on negative circumstances. David could have remained mired in discouragement but he chose to encourage himself in the Lord.
Both discouragement and encouragement are choices.
God commanded Joshua to be courageous three specific times after Moses died. Courage bubbled up inside of him by observing and obeying and meditating on the Word. The Word is a mirror to us and it is accurate. It reflects who we are to God.
Who Do You Think You Are?
My mom, with four boys before she was 30, survived life as a single mom. God proved Himself faithful to her over and over and over again. She would never describe it as an easy life because it wasn’t easy. It was tough but God was faithful. Our situations did not always match what God said about us. She chose to put her trust in Him despite the pain and adversity. The easy way out for her would be to blame my dad or to quit. She trusted God.
We often have the tendency to believe what others say about us but only in a negative way. Often we disregard what God says about us and we put more faith in our circumstances than God’s promises. God says we are royal. We should believe Him!
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight (Colossians 1: 21-22 NKJV).
We are holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. We are alienated and enemies in our mind. I choose to agree with God on this one. Since He sees me as holy, blameless, and above reproach who am I to disagree with HIM? What I think is irrelevant. How about you? Can you agree with Him?
The Financial Fight Is Real
I am in no way, shape or form attempting to minimize your pain, suffering, in any financial struggle that you may be encountering.
Money struggles are real—I get it.
I simply want to encourage you to overcome them by the blood of the Lamb, the word of your testimony, and loving not your life even onto death.
If you get knocked down get back up if you can. If you cannot get back up then allow God to be your light. Cry out to Him! Fight the good fight of faith. God is the best “corner man” in the business.
Finally, encourage yourself in the Lord!
Refuse to identify as a financial victim. You are more than a conqueror. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
Kristin DiMarco wrote a song titled, I Am No Victim. I will end this post with two of my favorite lines from the song.
I am who He says I am,
He is who He says He is.
Paul Roe says
Great read Tim…I ‘ve had my eyes opened re. ‘encouragement is a military word. David became more militant in His pursuit of God.’
Thanks & GBU
Kevin Mercadante says
Hi Tim – I completely agree with what you’ve written. My life has been more of a zig-zag than an elevator ride up. And what you say about God (or more specifically, what the Bible says about Him) has proven true again and again.
Steven Furtick put it perfectly. He said no matter what happens in your life your story isn’t over. If we could just focus on that when we’re in one of those valleys in life we’d get the right perspective.
Psalm 121: 1-2 tells us what to do: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Admittedly, that’s tough to embrace when you’re in the middle of an ongoing train wreck. And it’s even harder when you’re younger and may not have so many of those “God experiences”. But it’s something we need to rely on in those dark moments.
I’ve never found it to fail, but one pattern I’ve noticed is that God often delays answering our prayers, and usually does require effort on our parts. After all, taking action is the ultimate statement of faith, and that’s what He’s trying to move us toward.
Great post, and I hope many will take it to heart.