When Your World Falls Apart
This is mainly written for those in the western world as our circumstances regarding poverty is rather unique due to social and political constraints.
Dealing with a topic like this opens the doors to both the practical and spiritual perspective, most now days have little regard for the spiritual aspects so lets look at the practical first and place some spiritual perspective at the end.
Bad times come to everyone at some point or other, both on an individual and national scale, this is simply a part of the adventure we call life. Just as we go through bad and hard times, so at certain points we go through good and prosperous times as well. But only as judged by our value system, which here in the west is mammon driven. The greatest obstacles to overcome when our lives hit the skids is not the hardship in itself but rather the battle that goes on in our minds and emotions. We can stop the rain or snow falling on our heads by finding some form of shelter even if its stringing up some plastic sheeting between the trees. We can keep warm simply by making a fire in an old tin bucket, we can feed ourselves by heading for the food bank or soup kitchen. But what really kills us is the emotions of shame at our situations or hate for a system that did this to us or hopelessness at our plight and desperation at our fallen state in society in general.
Society does not reward failure to gain wealth in the form of money and reputation and the feelings of vulnerability and being taken advantage of by others actually does far more harm than the situation itself. This is the result of a mammon based value system. In the third world hitting the skids is nothing more than a tempore nuisance while under western values it is like the world is coming to an end for the individual. To make matters worse families do not pull together like they used to but rather pull apart which makes matters even more miserable. I have seen whole families with kids living out the back of a car with no road insurance simply because they will not make their plight known to their other more well to do relations out of shame. Fact is that knowing how to receive is just as important as knowing how to give as well.
The other major obstacle to overcome is governmental bureaucracy and a system where money is required on a continues basis just to keep yourself legal. This is a western specific situation. You have to know when to let go of that which is not really important and how to simplify your situation. Pulling it together when on the skids takes just as much planning and forethought as when things are going well. Wallowing in regrets and self pity or bitterness only gets you deeper into the mess. You only have to go through a poverty cycle once to know that when things come right you need to make provision for if things go to pieces again. The status car means nothing if you default on the payments while a paid for second hand small car can get you places and even shelter you in a storm. The latest electronic gadgets are no use if there are monthly bills attached to keep them operating. Credit cards have 19% or more interest rates attached. What were you thinking?
So the question is, when we land up in this position just how do we handle it ?
Normally when things are going to go to pieces you get some warning, if the job is packing in you know it etc, these things seldom just drop out the blue. Planning for it makes things so much easier. If you are going to end up on the streets then do not wait until the money runs out and you are forced out but get the tents and sleeping bags etc and move out while you still have some cash to keep in pocket. Better to be there with some means for gas etc than be forced out in two months time with no means. If you have kids then get them prepared psychologically. I read mine a bedtime story consisting of the Lord of the Rings. When it was time to go they were all geared up for a grand adventure like the Hobbits. There is nothing worse for a kid than finding out that he has no home anymore just before it happens. Kids happy the wife handles it, kids falling apart, so follows the wife. Never forget that the hardest battle is in the mind, not the circumstances.
In nature more prosper in co-operation than in situations where the survival of the fittest rules. Do your networking well ahead of time, families and friends do pull together far better when they can plan ahead rather than when disasters come to their door step out the blue. Couch hopping works if you keep things uncluttered. Remember that even though you may not be able to stop the bad times you can do something to speed up your recovery times.
If you are headed for the skids full out then get rid of all the extra costs like fancy cell phone plans etc, you are going to loose them anyway so cut back to the very basic that can last longer. Get rid of the high car payments by returning the car to the dealer and get the cheaper second hand car from the buy and sell that you can pay for outright, It only has to last until you can find another form of income so keep your credit rating intact for later. If you bought items on hire purchase then return them, you won’t be able to keep up the payments anyway and you sure can’t afford to pay for storage. The most important thing that you need to keep an eye on in times like this is your physical health so as to be able to climb out the hole as opportunities come, the rest is all secondary. Never resort to crime in any form, it just makes matters ten times worse. We live in a world where there really is no place left to hide and computers never forget you.
Well that covers the secular practical part, now for the spiritual aspects! The Apostle Paul had this to say about the subject.
Php 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Php 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1Ti 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
1Ti 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
1Ti 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
1Ti 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
In our modern western culture we have a value system based on mammon. That is a system that places value on lots of money and material possessions and reputation and authority over others. The desire instilled in our subconscious is to strive for those things and follow the trends dictated by the media and those around us. Our careers are what define us and provide our sense of worth as well as dictate our power to earn wealth as defined by the world system around us. To remain relevant we need the latest gadgets and toys that allow communications and prestige. We have to play the game with the right people in the right positions to get anywhere considered worth while.
From the above passages it is quite obvious that the Apostle Paul had scant regard for being a player in the game. He had in the course of his life had a taste both for success and poverty as defined by his generation and had reached the point where he had little regard for his worldly circumstances but had learned to be content I whatever situation he found himself in at any given time. That contentment to go with the flow came from a value system that was not mammon based. Got food, got clothing, be done with it and get on with his Lords work of spreading the gospel. That was where his priorities lay. Lasting riches were not to be found this side of eternity in his value system.
This is not really surprising when you consider what Jesus had to say on the subject!
Luk 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Luk 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
Luk 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
There is a very good reason as to why Jesus was so harsh on the pursuit of mammon. To gain mammon in any quantity you of necessity have to deprive from another. The mammon system is set up in such a way that to gain over the competition someone else down the line has to loose so as to provide. With the accumulation of mammon comes power and authority which is inevitably abused so as to further gains and control. This is the exact opposite of what God is looking for as in helping your neighbour and defending the weak. Either you strive to please God or you strive to gain mammon, there is no real compromise where you can do both.
In Gods kingdom wealth is measured in skills and abilities to do good for the rest of creation, it is not measured in power to dominate and subdue. This is further demonstrated when Jesus was challenged regarding the payment of Taxes, He asked for a coin and then asked who’s face was inscribed on the coin. When told that it was Caesars mug that was stamped on the coin Jesus replied, then render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and give to God that which belongs to God. In other words the money associated with mammon has nothing to do with God, he makes no claim to it. And rightly so! It is the means with which the kingdom of Satan retains its control over this world. Satan creates a demand for mammon through the laws of the land and then rewards its workers of inequity with it and denies it to those that do not play the game thus making their lives miserable and hard. When Jesus said he came to set the captives free he meant it. The chains that control and bind remain in place because the ignorant consider them something to be desired.
A bit of personal testimony here, Wealth is largely a state of mind, During the hard decades I seldom had two coins to rub together and most of what we had we made ourselves. People that had so much more than us would actually envy us and called us liars to our faces when we told them how little we actually did have. For years we lived either homeless or just two weeks away from homeless. But due to other circumstances I had to do a study on demonology during which I discovered that the demons controlling the flow of the worlds mammon were largely under the control of the demons Rimmon and Belphagor. Using my authority in Christ I bound those two demons and the chains under them from bringing this constant poverty on us.
If you wish to serve the Lord the kingdom of Satan will come against you and will make life hard for you. The objective being to break you down till you accept playing the game and doing evil as well. When it comes to wealth and poverty there is a spiritual element tied into it. Being poor does not necessarily mean you are doing wrong, It more often than not means you are doing things right but lack the knowledge to over come that which is coming against you . Stand fast in your faith and do not stop doing good, we all reap what we sow. If you stand fast and do not cease from doing good you will reap the rewards of righteousness.
Hos 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
Hos 10:13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
But if the evil in the nation starts to overwhelm the nation the Lord does step in and the mammon of the nation does get removed. Satan may have the nations in his chains but only as far as God will allow.