Suffering in the Suburbs (Part 4)–Financial Suffering
In this final post (see earlier posts 1, 2, 3), we discuss the notion of suffering financially. Must a Christ follower suffer financially? What does this look like?
Just like physical, emotional, and social suffering, every Christian will be given a different degree of suffering financially. Some happen to be more blessed than others financially and some seem to have more hardships. Even so, all Christians are called to love God above wealth and to be generous; this will likely lead us into a measure suffering. I believe that recognizing this will help us be more generous with what we have and trusting of God with the financial resources He has entrusted to us.
It will cost us if we are to meet the needs of those around us and those beyond our immediate surroundings. If we are to help alleviate the suffering of poor around the world and give to organizations that are doing (like the fantastic organization called Feed My Starving Children), then we’ll have to give sacrificially—forgoing our superficial comforts to alleviate the true pains of those around the globe. Along with the pain of giving to righteous causes, we’ll likely give to those who are ungrateful, to those who may not handle the funds the way we wish, and to those who wish ill-will toward us—we can’t know how every single person will use every dollar we give.
We’ll also probably have to give more than we expected—new needs always arise—and we’ll likely have to give up some of the conveniences that we believe we’re entitled to. We may have to work longer hours. We may have to give up a better paying job, if means sacrificing ministry opportunities or precious time with family. We’ll likely have to expand how much we designate toward hospitality if we are to welcome outsiders into our homes. And so on…
The suburban Christian needs not be afraid of suffering financially. We give, knowing that everything we have is a gift from God. We give generously and painfully because we want to see Christ’s Kingdom advance. Now this doesn’t mean we should be irresponsible or foolish, but it does mean that have to prioritize how we use what God has given us. Our giving and actions must show that Jesus is our greatest treasure. How this looks for each person or family will be different, but what a tremendous opportunity we have to see the gospel advance in the land if every Christian in the West—or in the suburbs—was willing to suffer more financially in order to see the gospel advance! How many more hospitals could we see built abroad, or hungry fed, or pastors trained, or churches planted if we were more willingly to suffer financially! What a great impact we could make if we were willing to give up some of our superficial comforts or conveniences for the gospel!
In conclusion, suffering in the suburbs for the Christian is a real experience. We will likely suffer emotionally, socially, and financially (and possibly physically) if we make Jesus our greatest joy and first priority. The wonderful thing is that in our suffering, the world and our own our hearts will see the glory of Jesus. Finally, one day all of our sufferings will seem light and momentary compared the eternal weight of glory to be revealed when Jesus returns (2 Cor 4:17).