I, like many of you, seek to interpret experiences in my life through the filter of the Bible to understand what God is doing. It’s a difficult task, even when the Holy Spirit is making up for my many inadequacies.
When financial successes or failures come, it is hard to know exactly what God is doing in the midst of them.
As you may remember, one of my three goals for this year was to use my online business to replace my full time income by the end of 2011.
Then, in February or March, Google changed their algorithm, and it impacted how they ranked pages.
Let me give you a quick example. Let’s say you went to Google to find out if Christians should give or tithe while in debt. There was a good chance that in the top three positions, you’d find my article on giving while in debt.
However, after the Google update (called Panda), that article wouldn’t be anywhere on the first page of Google results.
The impact on my web site was a loss of traffic and a loss of income.
My wife and I immediately started to ask what God was doing in the midst of this. We explored the possibility that:
- God wanted to use this to challenge me and make me work harder to make the online business a success.
- God wanted to humble me by bringing this burden on me.
- God wanted me to refocus and re-prioritize.
- God wanted me to quit blogging and do something else.
We even explored the possibility that God had nothing to do with it.
It’s human nature to ask why.
The problem is that we often equate things that bring more income as God affirming what we’re doing and things that give less income as God punishing us. But, that is not true (though it may be).
God was blessing Joseph by allowing him to be sold into slavery. Later in life, Joseph realized it was a good thing as God was helping Joseph save his family (Gen. 45:7). What was apparently bad news turned into good news.
Ultimately, we must come to trust that God is working for the good (Rom. 8:28). I understand this passage to mean that things will work out for the good of the kingdom – not necessarily my own personal good. But God will be glorified in the midst of whatever comes my way.
Thus, we trust.
- We trust God has a plan or a purpose when we lose a job.
- We trust God has a plan or purpose when our income drops.
- We trust God has a plan or purpose when we get a raise.
- We trust God has a plan or purpose when we don’t get the promotion.
- We trust God has a plan or purpose when we get promoted.
In the last month, I’ve read about several people who were saying that getting fired was a blessing. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? After some time, each of these individuals were given a unique opportunity to try something they were too scared to do when employed. In all these cases, things after getting fired were better than things before getting fired.
In my case, I’d have to say that losing a significant portion of my online income at Money Help for Christians was a tremendous blessing.
First, I was able to re-think and refocus the function and purpose of this blog. I may not be earning as much income as I was before, but the blog is better because I’m using it more as a ministry tool to do what I think honors God. I love writing posts that I think will really help to challenge you and change you. Touching a life is so much more rewarding than earning a dollar.
Second, I was able to re-think how I’d use my portfolio of blogs (yes, I do have other blogs) to make them more profitable. That creative pressure helped me to re-brand my travel blog. A decision that has made that blog far more profitable than this one ever was (even with 80% less traffic).
What at the time was such bad news has proven to be a tremendous blessing for my online business.
I say all this to say that we must continue to ask what God is doing in the midst of our financial success and failure. But we might not know – today. At times, God may require us to go through a dark night (or years) of the soul in order to reposition us and re-direct our compass.
Then we should trust that God will take any event in our lives and use it for the good of his Kingdom and the Glory of God the Father (even if it’s not for our own personal good).
How do you discover what God is doing in the midst of financial success or failure? Have you ever had bad news that turned out to be really good news?