The Foundation of Hope

Truths That Transform: The Foundation of Hope

An old Rich Mullins song called “Pictures in the Sky” contains this line:
“Down here on earth it’s hard to keep in mind
When the days are hazy the sun still shines.”

This shows the importance of perspective – what we see is determined by where we are, where we are looking, and whether we’re seeing with physical eyes or spiritual eyes. Hope is like that – it’s based on perspective. Circumstances like debt, bills, unexpected expenses – these can cloud our vision and dim our hope. Maintaining hope in the midst of these types of circumstances is a matter of maintaining perspective – the ability to see above the clouds.

Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). These are the words of a person who sees beyond the immediate circumstances. Of course, we know that even Job wasn’t able to maintain that hopeful viewpoint through all of his suffering. Suffering (including financial “suffering”) can wear us down over time, dominating our thoughts and dimming our hope.

How can we keep hope alive in the midst of financial or other difficulty? Everyone’s response to difficulty is a bit different, based on temperament and background, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

Hope is based on faith, not fantasy. Hope is more than wishful thinking. Hope is based on faith in something that we can’t see, but nonetheless know is real. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith and hope are tied closely together. Fantasies like winning the lottery or inheriting a fortune from a long-lost relative don’t provide real hope. Instead, trusting in a God who loves us, who has a plan for us, and who provides for our needs gives us hope.

Hope is anchored in obedience, not outcomes. Emergency funds will be wiped out by unexpected, well, emergencies. Anticipated raises or bonuses may fail to come. Debt retirement plans may take longer to execute than anticipated. If our hope is based on outcomes, it will rise and fall with circumstances only partially within our control. However, if we’re faithfully following where God leads, remembering our place as stewards, God honors that obedience over time, which validates and increases our hope. Obedience is in our court; outcomes are in God’s hands.

Hope stores its treasures in heaven, not here. Colossians 3:1-4 tells us to fix our hearts and our minds on heaven, not on earthly things. Hebrews 11:13 tells us how the “Hall of Faith” members retained their hope: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” Hope and faith come from an eternal perspective, rather than an earthly one. Hope is not based on a certain amount of money in a retirement account or even on a balanced budget; it’s based on a faithful, good, and powerful God – One who is always on our side.

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean in Jesus’ Name

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand”

Good Sense Movement Team
Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!

The Importance of Perspective

August 2015 Good $ense Newsletter: The Importance of Perspective

After a major battle in WWII, a doctor on the front lines was running low on morphine. So rather than automatically administering it to badly wounded soldiers, he asked them how much pain they were in. To his great surprise, 75% of them said the pain wasn’t that great and they didn’t need morphine.

Before the war he had been a doctor in the emergency room of a large city hospital. When patients came there with injuries similar to those of the soldiers they were almost always in great pain. Why the difference?

Years of investigation of the phenomena convinced the doctor that the difference in felt pain was a result of the person’s perspective on the injury.

For the soldier who was shot, typical thoughts might be, “I’m hurt but I’m still alive! Soon I’ll be evacuated to a hospital. I’ll be safe there – there will even be nurses! I will get a medal and get to go home!” These soldiers were not focused on the pain of their injury but on the results that were forthcoming.

In contrast, a person the doctor treated in the civilian hospital who had been shot in an attempted holdup, for instance, was probably thinking, “I’m hurt but I’m still alive. How will I pay for my injuries? How much work will I miss? What will be the impact on my family?”

Where the soldier’s injury would remove him from a difficult and dangerous situation, the civilian’s injury was only going to create difficulties. Similar injuries, similar surgeries, similar healing processes – but very different perspectives.

Similarly, people in need of financial “surgery” experience a level of pain determined by their perspective. When the perspective is limited to the sacrifices that must be made, the amount of time to get “back on their feet” financially, and the obstacles encountered along the way, the level of pain will be high – maybe high enough to tempt them to give up. But when the perspective is on the goal – financial freedom – even the obstacles can become sources of excitement and can generate determination.

Our job servants in the area of stewardship is to help people maintain perspective. A stewardship friend put it this way, “Every ‘no’ must be accompanied by a compelling ‘yes’ or the ‘no’ becomes simply deprivation.” Keep your students and those you coach feeling motivated rather than deprived by focusing on the goals they are moving toward and on the freedom they will experience when those goals are met.

The Freed-Up Coaches Training and Freed-Up Financial Living curriculum’s can help!  And for you, faithful leaders and teachers, remember the joy and freedom your sometimes difficult efforts are producing in the lives of those you serve.

Sid Yeomans
President, Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!

How is your College Student Doing Financially?

News You Can Use: How is your college student doing financially?

It’s August, and the school year is rolling around again. Incoming freshmen new to the college scene, seniors getting ready for their final year, graduate students taking their education a step further – across the country, students are getting ready. And many of them are going into debt (or further into debt) in the process.

The total student loan debt passed $1 trillion for the first time in 2012, and continues to climb. As of April 13, total student debt had tripled in the previous 8 years; student debt ranked second only to mortgages among all types of consumer debt.(1)

In 2012, Graduate degree students borrowed an average of $57,600, a 43% increase from 2004’s figure of $40,209.(2)

40 million Americans have at least one outstanding student loan, with an average balance of $29,000. According to a recent survey conducted by Citizens Financial, nearly half of current students said that they might drop out due to worries over debt. About the same number said that they might not have gone to college at all if they had known how hard it would be to handle their student loans. (3)

A 2014 article on the New York Times website noted that in 2013 fewer consumer loans became delinquent than in any recent year, with one exception: student loans. Student loan delinquencies continue to rise, and – unlike other types of loans, which have become harder to obtain – these loans continue to be made without regard to ability to repay.

According to the New York Fed, up until 2009, young adults with college debt tended to be better off than their counterparts without college debt. They were more likely to own homes and more likely to have car loans, due to their established credit and ability to earn money, and they generally had better credit scores than people of the same age without college loans.

Today, however, the opposite is true. Young adults with student loans have worse credit scores, are less likely to have car loans and are more likely to be living with their parents than their counterparts without student loans.(4)

What does all this mean for those who are going off to college and for parents of college students? A job market that’s a long way from fully restored, combined with loan practices that are not based on ability to repay, should make students and parents cautious about student loans. These loans will come due when careers are just beginning and income is at its lowest. College debt can put significant financial pressure on young marriages and families.

Some students are ready for a 4-year college program immediately after high school. But there are many alternatives, some of which carry a much smaller financial burden. Here are a few:

  • Consider beginning with a 2-year Associates Degree, then working for a couple of years to save up to study for a Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Community colleges can be a much less expensive way to accomplish the first couple of years of a 4-year degree; in these years, classes tend to be more general and less specialized toward majors.
  • Some students will benefit from working a couple of years after high school before attending college; not only does this help students to save up for college, it also tends to increase a student’s appreciation for college.

Whatever route parents and students opt for, being realistic about the implications of repaying college debt can make a significant long-term difference in the financial freedom of graduating students.

(1), accessed on 08/15/2015.

(2), accessed on 08/17/2015.

(3), accessed on 08/17/2015.

(4), accessed on 08/17/2015.

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