Fearing abundance after a season of suffering

This may sound weird, but it’s true: for the longest time, I’ve been afraid of enjoying God’s abundance. Because I feel undeserving when so many people in the world are barely getting by. Because I haven’t been as faithful as I’d like. Because, because, because. 

It feels especially weird to praise God for the abundance of simple things like fresh coffee during beautiful fall mornings and antidepressants that work when we’re still in a pandemic. People are still dealing with economic fallout and others are grieving or dying. My prayers of small thanks feel like Basic White Christian Instagram fluff.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during the seasons I struggled, the best thing to do with whatever blessings you have, big or small, is to share them. People did that for us when my father was dying and when my husband lost his job, and I’ve never forgotten that. We are in a much better place right now — I hesitate to say “secure place” because everything, everything is fragile and can change on a dime. But for now, things are better, and I’m just grateful.

So when I ask God, “Why us? Why did you give us these new jobs when we have family to take care of us, and others have nothing?” I have a glimpse of what the answer is.

It’s making an abundance of my pumpkin turkey chili and butternut squash soup and inviting friends over to share and take home leftovers (and then making more to store in the freezer and leave on friends’ doorsteps when they’re sick). 

It’s having a brief conversation with someone at the bookstore who is looking at Bibles because she’s interested in Christianity, but has so many questions before she can make that leap of faith…and offering to buy her the Bible she’s looking at (happened this past weekend).

It’s using the extra space in my home to host my church small group, which boasts more children than adults, and smiling through the cracker crumbs on the kitchen floor and the spilled juice because fellowship is beautiful and messy and my Type-A personality that demands everything be clean all the time needs to learn to lighten up.

I write a lot about suffering because it’s inevitable for everyone in some form or another. It sucks to go through, but it can also teach and sanctify. I forget that the same is true of blessings and abundance, no matter what form they take. 

I love what Phylicia Masonheimer wrote in a blog post about fearing God’s abundance:

The lie that suffering is more holy than Sabbath seasons is just that: a lie. Suffering teaches us much; the things I’ve learned through chronic illness, surgery, job loss, false labors and a difficult marriage will be with me forever. The imprint is eternally upon my heart. But I am learning that our abundant seasons, our harvest seasons, are as full of lessons and goodness as the famine was. Refusing to accept them just shortchanges our growth. Refusing to open our hands and hearts to the fullness of God’s abundance helps no one and hurts us.

As I write, I can think of countless people walking through suffering. Two people dear to my heart have cancer. Another has two small babies in the NICU. One is wrestling for her marriage. One is navigating long term singleness. One is grieving five deaths in the last two years. I could think: I don’t deserve my blessings. I’m not in a hard season. This isn’t fair, I can’t accept it. I could do that. But I’d be making this season about me.

Accepting God’s abundance is not a motivator to greed. It’s the engine of generosity.

Rather than bracing myself for the next trial around the corner (when you have anxiety, that’s a default response), I’m using this season to be that person who shows up with the meal or the offer to babysit or run errands when someone else is suffering. I don’t want to waste my gifts.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


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