God and money--abundance and gratitude
Look around and see the abundance in the world
There is more abundance than you can measure
Abundance in nature
Have you ever tried to count all the leaves on a tree? Or the number of blades of grass on your lawn (if you have a lawn) or the number of grains of sand on the beach? Sounds crazy, right? Of course not, you say, there are too many of them. That is exactly the point. This is a demonstration of the abundance of God. At a time when most people have a scarcity mindset, it is good to step back and look at the abundance that is all around us. There are so many different kinds of flowers, for example. There are flowers so small that you cannot see them unless you are a bug. There are flowers that bloom high overhead. There are sunflowers, that stand as tall as a man. There are flowers in almost every conceivable color. In the old encyclopedias that I have in my attic, there is a whole page devoted to just some of the different species of dogs. In spite of all the problems that are going on in the world, nature is still exuberant and flourishing in every place that man is not actively destroying.
A powerful yet simple example of nature's abundance is seed bearing plants. When God made the world, He made a point of telling Adam and Eve that He had made seed-bearing plants for them. Why is that significant? He was telling them that He had created an abundant world for them to live in. One seed can be planted and it will produce a plant bearing fruit or vegetables. Not one fruit or one vegetable, but numerous fruit and numerous vegetables. All this comes from one seed. And then each fruit or vegetable contains numerous seeds. This process can multiply itself over and over again.
Because of God's abundance, a person with very basic gardening skills and a small garden plot could have an ample supply of food. The recent increase in urban gardening proves that this is true. People are gardening in empty lots, on rooftops, in alleys and even pots hung out the window. This multiplication factor is the same reason for the success of microlending in poor countries. A person can take out a loan for a small amount of money and buy a chicken. Then they can sell eggs, make enough money to pay back the loan and then buy two chickens. Then three. Soon this person has an small company with employees and the beginnings of wealth. Before, they had nothing. But the small seed of the loan and the first chicken multiplies into something greater.
The same abundance is available to us all. But you have to open your eyes to see it. Let me give another example, one that you may not have thought about.
Most people only see clutter as a nuisance. Here you have books piled up in a corner. There you have clothes clogging up the closet. We have television shows about people who have taken clutter to an extreme. Their family and friends don't want to visit them. Everyone thinks they have a sickness. In the United States of America recently one of the fastest growing businesses was storage facilities. People had to rent space to put all their stuff.
This is an example of abundance. Think about what it means to have so much stuff you don't know where to put it. This is not scarcity. This is overflow. This is excess. This is abundance taken up a few notches. In the Old Testament book of Malachi, God promises to bless the people who pay tithes by saying He will "open up the window of heaven and pour you out a blessing that you won't have room to receive." Well, we have just that. We have stuff that we don't have room for. We have to rent a big box to put it in.
This has created a new industry--personal organizers. These people make a living helping people to throw out, give away, sell or share things that they no longer need and in the process make their homes more liveable. The storage industry has grown out of a need to find a place for excess belongings.
Developing gratitude improves the picture
So what does this have to do with your finances? I think we have to develop some gratitude for what we already have. This helps to reduce anxiety about the economy. When our anxiety is reduced, we can think more clearly. Clearing the mind opens us up to new ideas about how to address financial difficulties or challenges. Gratitude allows us to see old situations in new ways. The urban gardener had to look at the abandoned lot and instead of seeing trash and weeds they had to envision produce. We have to do the same thing with our personal circumstances. We have to look beyond the problems and see the opportunities.
Gratitude is something you can develop right where you are. If you have bills, be thankful for them. Someone has allowed you to obtain goods or services before expecting payment. They are trusting you to pay them. So you should pay them with gratitude. Sometimes people think that if they get out without paying for things they are being clever, but that kind of behavior catches up with you. Be grateful for the income you have, however small. It is amazing how God will take the little you have and make it stretch when you trust Him to do so. Be grateful for every opportunity that comes your way.
Developing gratitude in your everyday living allows you to tap into the abundance that is all around you. Gratitude allows you to see what can be in the midst of what is. Gratitude can be a doorway to miraculous events. Even if absolutely nothing in your life changes, you change. When you learn to be thankful right where you are, you feel better. Hope replaces despair. And you find out that you have more than you think.