Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do I Only Trust in Visible Support?

The phrase, “No Visible Means of Support” has been thumping around in my head for the last while. I think the phrase comes from an underwear ad from my childhood. I don’t know whether they still use it in their advertising or whether the company who did even still exists. I googled it and didn't see anything that provoked my curiosity, only dismay because one post used it to describe or define a vagrant. Still, this phrase just seems so timely, because my husband has felt the increasing likelihood that he will join the ranks of the unemployed in the near future unless something wonderful and unexpected happens with his job. At least he’s got lots of company; that can be reassuring, except that it also ensures a daunting amount of competition for every job for which he might apply.
We’ve been down this road before; his career in sales has been difficult and I’d hate to try to add up how much time we’ve spent with him working and without. So I know a lot of ways to save money, though I know that we probably waste more than we ought. Actually, I can't really explain why we haven't encountered more trouble financially than we have by this point already, so in view of that, I can look more optimistically at the future. And past experience in job outages might be helpful for us, and also helpful for others who are dealing with it for the first time.
For us this time it’s a little more unnerving than usual, because thanks to repeated periods of unemployment, our bills are bigger than ever before, and our savings resources are less adequate to the challenge than ever before. So do we fear? I hope not. I am a person who has learned to trust in a Provider bigger than myself. Don’t let me lose you here. I still struggle with the same difficulties you do; with such pressures that surround me perhaps more pressingly than ever before, I still fight the tendency to worry about my circumstances. I just have come to the conclusion that there is a God who cares and who can help me, and anyone who will trust in Him, through any challenge; in fact, these afflictions are worthwhile if we see them as working for our good. So while we might have no visible means of support, I thought I would start chronicling just how much more powerful our “invisible” means of support, our faith, might be to take our family through another round of unemployment.
When I read my Bible, I find an incredible number of promises and encouragements, and I feel helped. If these promises and encouragements fell flat, I would have reason to become disenchanted, but I know that in the past, we have always come out better as a result of any of our trials, when we went through them looking to Christ. These days, we’ve been studying the passage in the Gospel of Mark about Jesus calming the waves and the storm, and Him walking on water. His walking on water is another vista of “no visible means of support.” If He can rely on something unseen, so can I. He had Peter actually walk on the water (Mark doesn’t tell that part of the story); Peter started out fine, focusing on Christ, and walking with no visible means of support…but his eyes just couldn’t resist looking askance at the waves around him…and he sank. So I take counsel from Peter's experience, and I try to look at Christ and not at the things that trouble me. I look to Him for an example of faith, for an expression of God’s power, for a sense of calm. Where else might I better look for help, when all around me there is turbulence?
What fun is there in looking at my troubles anyway, and feeling all the symptoms of unworkable, crippling anxiety? It seems that even if I didn’t want to look to Christ, since I have nowhere else to turn, I would go to Him out of desperation if nothing else! My not-so-hidden agenda, though, is to turn to Him and rely on Him and see what He will provide that will be my help, my further testimony of His faithfulness, my redemption.
Hoping that I can call myself a good wife, I want to help my husband and family through this time. So I look to Proverbs 31. The woman there is hardly a timid little thing that never ventures out with an idea to help her family along. She is out selling belts, bringing food from afar, clothing her family, interacting with the world in a productive, businesslike and confident way. God uses her as an example of a woman living a fruitful life. So how does her example apply to me? That is an item for prayer. I can’t say I’ve lived the life of bringing in income for our family (not for the last 20 years or so), but I am willing if that is what God has for me. That is one of my first prayers for this period of time, is, “What would You have me do? How can I be like the Proverbs 31 woman for my family?” I don’t yet know what the answer is. I have some ideas, but I don’t know yet which He would have me pursue.

He may not have me change my work at all. He might overturn our lives completely. Our lives are in His hands; we are His servants, and it is up to Him to do with us as He will. I look forward to seeing what God crafts our lives into being, with fear, I admit, and with eagerness. Keeping my focus on Jesus is the only way to handle my fear, and the only reason for my eagerness as we head into the future. Our earthly future may be fully unknown to us, yet it is fully planned by Him from ages past.

No comments: