My husband and I were married right out of college, and spent the first couple years of married life trying to store up a few months’ worth of savings while also paying off student loans. But it seemed like every time we got comfortable with the numbers in our bank account, some major cost would come our way and our small savings would be quickly depleted.
First there was our wedding, then the birth of our child, then my husband had a bout of sickness with rare complications. As we recovered from the cost of various medical bills, there was an overseas move, then another move when the first one didn’t work out…
We’ve been married five years now. But our bank account today looks sadly similar to the one we had at the end of our first year of marriage. Financially, it feels like we’ve made no progress.
Perhaps the author of Ecclesiastes would say of our pursuit of wealth, “This too is meaningless.”
Today’s passage talks about how riches fail us—something I can bear witness to. The Preacher warns us that even honest gain will not satisfy if our heart is in the wrong place: “Whoever loves money never has enough” (v. 10). Though we might earn a raise, get a bonus, or carefully set aside money each month for savings—if we expect those things to fulfil us, we’ll be sorely disappointed (v. 11).
Furthermore, wealth does not last. I have seen births, illnesses, and moves eat away our little fortune again and again. What might happen in your life? Would your wealth, also, be “lost through some misfortune” or other event (v. 14)? Would you be like those who work hard all their lives scrambling for the next fortune, but in the end have nothing to show for it (v. 14)? Even our best efforts cannot guarantee us financial stability.
But we still need to work. We need to eat. While wealth and possession are temporary and can promise neither safety nor security, the Preacher suggests that they are not entirely worthless. He says, “When God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift from God” (v. 19). Wealth isn’t the problem, but our tendency to depend on it is.
If it so happens that we do get a promotion or a bonus, if we do somehow save up more than we need, let us acknowledge it as a gift from God. And let us pray for the ability to enjoy these gifts and be content with what God has given us.
If, on the other hand, our bank account always seems dangerously close to zero, and we don’t know where next month’s rent is coming from, let us remember that our God is still the God who provides (Matthew 6:32-33).
In my own life, I have seen God provide again and again. We somehow always found enough to pay off the medical bills. With each move, family and friends pitched in to find us places to stay, and to provide generously for even basic needs such as cookware and clothes. Each time our bank account dips, we have seen God’s generous provision in new ways.
Seeing God’s hand of faithfulness over our lives has taught me not to lose myself to worry over accumulating fickle wealth, which can bring neither satisfaction nor stability. After all, our stability comes from a generous and loving God, who knows and is able to meet our every need.
—By Christine Emmert, USA
Questions for reflection
- How can you tell if you love money or not? What does it look like to find your satisfaction and security in God, and handle money with gratitude?
- Think of a time that God provided for you in an unexpected way. Who can you encourage this week by sharing this story with them?