Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.
I have worked as a financial counselor over the past couple years and have spoken with more than 2,500 individuals and families, all of them with common themes of financial hardship and difficulty in managing their money.
The majority of people I have spoken with are very humble, and often ashamed and fearful of their predicament. For many it is a great struggle to pick up the phone and ask for help. Being in financial hardship can be a difficult and terrible experience—it is also a very common one.
People may find themselves in difficulty for many different reasons. Job loss or reduction of income, medical issues, divorce or relational breakdowns, and unwise decision-making can all lead to unmanageable debt.
The Bible has many things to say about how we handle our money, and chief among them are recognizing God’s ownership of everything, being a good manager of the resources we are given, living joyfully and thankfully within our means, and avoiding debt to enable a generous lifestyle.
For whatever reasons people find themselves in financial difficulty, there are always ways to move forward positively, and we believe as Christians that all things are possible with God. Having God in the center of a person’s life can put other problems in their proper perspective.
As a member of the Helping Hand Committee, I have seen the generosity of many helping to meet financial needs within the Bethlehem community. Money comes from monthly offerings, and we collect and disburse about $100,000/year, focusing primarily on helping with basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing.
We also have people who are willing to sit down with folks and talk through their financial situations, set up budgets, and understand how to manage money better. And we’ve held Bible studies using Crown Financial curriculum that many have benefitted from.
I can say with certainty that among the faces we see in church on Sunday morning, many are struggling financially. This can lead to great pain in homes, it can lead to marital stress, and it can lead to fear and hopelessness.
For those of you giving to the Helping Hand fund to help meet needs, thank you and God bless you. May God continue to bless you, that you might continue to be a blessing. What you do in secret is seen by our Father, and it is making a difference.
If you are in financial stress, I would encourage you to contact the church office and request to speak to a member of the Helping Hand Committee. While we have some funding available, we are also aware of many resources that exist to help people in a wide variety of circumstances. Whether it be a matter of having enough to pay for food, mortgages, credit cards, medical bills, etc., we can help you see the way forward. You can also speak with any elder, and he can steer you in our direction.
You Are Not Alone
If you find or feel yourself suffering in this time of economic turmoil, remember, first of all, that you are not alone.
Besides elders and the Helping Hand Committee, we have a God whose understanding is so deep, whose empathy is so profound, who walked on earth without owning a home and had nowhere to lay his head, who once went 40 days without food and understands hunger, who had the treasurer of his own group steal money, and who, in the end, was unjustly beaten and killed for doing good.
Remember that you are not alone—there are burden-sharers who love you. Remember that a joyful heart is good medicine and that we are called to be thankful in all things. And remember that Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
For the Helping Hand Committee,
Dan is a non-vocational and congregational elder serving the North Campus, a member of the Helping Hand Committee, and also the chairman of Bethlehem’s Financial and Property Administrators (FPAs).