Richard* made a faith promise pledge to the building project at his church. He committed to give a certain amount of money every month for two years.
Then the stock market crashed.
Instead of having a comfortable income that allowed him to meet his family’s needs and many of their wants, he now had an income that barely covered the basics. With fifteen months still left of his pledge to the building project, he wondered if he should continue to give.
“You need to look out for your family,” one friend said. Richard knew this was true, but he also knew it wasn’t a question of providing his family’s needs. It was their wants they’d be doing without if he kept his commitment.
“God will understand,” another counseled. “After all, he’s the one who allowed your income to be reduced in the first place.”
But the more he thought about reneging on his promise, the more uncomfortable he became. He thought about the instruction he’d read recently in Numbers 30:2. “When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.”
He thought about how good God was, how he had always provided for him and his family, and how he was still providing, even during a difficult economic downturn. He thought about how Jesus had commended the widow for giving out of her poverty, and knew he was far from poor.
One morning, seeking counsel from the Scripture, Richard read the account of King Amaziah in 2 Chronicles 25. Amaziah was gathering an army of fighting men from among the people of Judah. A great military threat loomed on the horizon, and he wanted to be prepared. He wondered if his 300,000 men would be enough to defend the country.
Fearful, he decided to shore up his forces by hiring 100,000 mercenaries from the country of Israel—to the tune of one hundred talents of silver. To put this in perspective, this equals about ten million dollars in today’s economy.
Before the ink had dried on the payroll check, however, the man of God came knocking on the door of his throne room. “Don’t let the army of Israel go with you, King Amaziah,” the prophet said. “God is not with Israel. If you do, God will make you fall before the enemy.” Then he scolded Amaziah for his lack of faith. “Don’t you realize ‘God has power to help and to overthrow’?”
Amaziah was cut to the heart, and rightfully so, for God had always been faithful to him. He’d never given him reason to doubt, and certainly no reason to put his trust in human power rather than in the Lord’s.
But there was still the matter of the ten million dollars.
“What shall we do about the hundred talents which I have given to the troops of Israel?”
And the man of God answered, ‘The Lord is able to give you much more than this.’
“So Amaziah discharged the troops that had come to him from Ephraim, to go back home.” He led his significantly smaller army into battle, and, with the Lord’s help, they conquered their enemy.
When Richard read this account, he knew what the Lord was telling him do.
He called a family meeting, explained the financial circumstances they were facing, and told the children about the commitment he and his wife had made to the Lord. Then he shared with his family how the Lord had spoken to him through his Bible reading.
“It’s going to be challenging for the next 15 months,” he told them. “We’ll have everything we need, but I’m going to have to say no when you ask me for money for extras. God has been so faithful to provide for our family all these years. I know we can trust him.”
And trust him they did. The kids were great, although occasionally they’d whine and complain. Sometimes Richard felt like a terrible father when they’d ask him for money to go out with their friends for pizza and he’d say no.
Eventually his daughter sought babysitting jobs and his son mowed lawns to earn pocket money. They invited friends into their home for games and dinner instead of eating out at a restaurant. They borrowed movies from the library, popped microwave popcorn, and piled up together on the couch. He and his wife brainstormed creative, free date nights. They grew closer together as a family, more creative, and much more resourceful. When they did splurge on a birthday dinner out or a special outing, they no longer took it for granted.
When fifteen months had passed and the day came to write the final pledge check to the church, Richard gathered his family around the table. He told them how proud he was of them. He recounted the many ways God had shown himself faithful over the past year and how they had lacked nothing essential. When he took stock of where they were, compared to a year before, he realized God’s Word to him had been true:
“The Lord is able to give you much more than this.”
Are you afraid to do what’s right because it might cost you something? Are you hesitant to obey what God wants you to do because it involves financial risk? Take the words of the man of God to heart: “The Lord is able to give you much more than this.”
Step out in faith today.
*This is a true story.