By Rivka Levy
Why our financial problems were one of the best things that ever happened to us.
I wrote all the blessings down – and I was astounded by how many bona fide good things had come about as a result of our not having two shekels to rub together. I got such a good feeling off my ‘being in debt’ list, that I decided to share it with you, and also to invite you to add to it, in the Comments section at the end of the article.
Get ready to be truly grateful for your money problems….
1. They ‘pay off’ our spiritual debts
Everyone sins. Even righteous people sin. It’s part of being human. Financial debts are a great and relatively painless way of paying down the ‘spiritual mortgage’ that we all have. And once that big spiritual debt is paid off, an hour a day of personal prayer will make sure you don’t slide into a massive ‘spiritual minus’ again.
2. They are the easiest way to do a serious soul correction
Why? Because it’s only money, and money comes as easily as it goes. One day you make a million, the next day you lose it; the day after that, you make two million. God has all the money in the world, and He can just as easily give it as take it away. Money is not a serious health issue, God forbid, or a terrible relationship with your spouse. It’s not a kid who’s going seriously off the straight and narrow – all of which are infinitely more painful, difficult and heart-wrenching than a big overdraft at the bank.
Does it bother us to be poor? Sure. Does it bother us enough to do some serious soul-searching? Usually, yes – which is why it’s one of God’s favorite ploys for encouraging people to get closer to Him, and to re-evaluate their lives.
3. They spur us on to make repentance
Before I had serious money problems, I never dressed modestly. My husband never made a point of learning. We never ‘spoke’ to God; we never tried to see God in our lives, and to acknowledge Him.
Once we hit skid row, I started trying to talk to God every day, and my husband joined a religious seminary for men. Once I understood ‘Who’ was behind my financial woes, I was prepared to change – a lot – to try to alleviate the situation. My bank balance goes up and down – but all that amazing repentance(returning to God) stuck. I’m doing far more deeds than ever before, and Thank God, they are all going to stand me in good stead when I get Upstairs.
4. They helped me to stop spoiling my kids
When I had to start saying ‘no’ to my kids – and meaning it – my kids got so much more appreciative of all the things they were actually bought. Also, getting things became a joyous occasion, as opposed to a routine event. We also started to think about whether the things they wanted were actually good for them, as opposed to just ‘nice to have’. Did they really need that ultra-fashionable $100 rucksack for school? Err, no. Did they really need 24 pairs of shoes? Err, no. Was it really useful for my four year old to be doing extra-curricular English, ballet and drama every week? Err, no.
Lastly, it also taught my kids that you don’t need shopping and ‘things’ to be happy – which is almost the biggest present we could have given them.
5. They helped me to stop buying things I don’t need
Ok, put your hands up: who here has an ice cream maker they use once a year? Or a pasta machine that’s still in the box? Or a juicer that sounded like a great idea but is too much of a hassle to clean?
Who here is struggling to contain all the clutter of unnecessary, surplus-to-requirement things that is threatening to swamp their whole house?
Too many ‘things’ block God’s light, and weigh very heavily on our souls. Now I don’t have a lot of money, I only buy the things that I really, really need. And it’s such a relief…
6. They helped me to reassess what I was doing with my life
For the first time ever, I had to ask myself: “am I working to live, or living to work?” For the first time ever, I also realized that there was a ‘cost’ to having more money, namely, an increasingly strained relationship with my husband; ever-mounting stress; very unhealthy eating habits, as I didn’t have time to cook; and miserable kids who hardly ever saw me when I wasn’t preoccupied or exhausted. The price of having more money was simply too high – so I quit my soul-destroying job.
7. They got us to move to a much more ‘suitable’ community
If we would have been able to pay the mortgage, I would never have considered moving out of my massive house – in the wrong neighborhood. Thank God, we couldn’t pay the mortgage and had to downsize to a place that was much more ‘us’, religiously.
8. They humbled us
As the famous dictum says, God can’t be with an arrogant person. But once you lose all your cash, a lot of your arrogance disappears with it – and that’s when you’ve finally got some space in your soul for God.
9. They taught us the limits of ‘working hard’
So many of us are taught that hard work can accomplish anything – but it’s rubbish. You can work as hard as you like, and if God doesn’t want you to succeed, you won’t. Conversely, you can make the minimum effort necessary, and if God wants it to work, you’ll achieve amazing things.
Once we realized that working even harder was not the answer to solving our financial problems, it took the pressure off us to ‘do’ more. Wow, you mean I’ll still have livelihood if I don’t work 24/7 and throw my Blackberry in the garbage? I don’t have to always say‘yes’ to the boss or client when they ask me to stay late or work weekends? Things will actually get done if I don’t do them? Yup. You just need a bit of faith.
10. They helped us to experience miracles
We have seen so many miracles since we’ve had money problems. Some of them are more ‘hidden’, like the fact that my husband has a great job that still lets him learn part-time; or the way that we’ve bought and sold houses in Israel so easily, and always at a profit.
But we’ve had other miracles, too. Like the 90,000 shekel tax rebate that appeared out of nowhere; or the 7,000 shekel unexpected bonus that came just when we needed it.
Each time we experience a miracle, it reinforces our faith that God really is running the world, and that He’s looking after us. That, in turn, makes it easier to ‘let go’ of all the money stuff, and just do our best to learn Torah, grow our faith and enjoy our lives, because for as long as God wants us around, it’s on His expense account.
Now, over to you – what blessings have you experienced as a result of your money problems?