QUESTION: My daughter and her husband are going through some very difficult financial times because of illness. My daughter has been working throughout her husband’s illness that took him off work for almost a year. She did her best to keep up with the bills, add to those medical bills, but that wasn’t enough. Now he is back at work and although they now have two incomes once again and are doing their best to catch up, the bank is attempting to foreclose on their home.
These are two responsible adults with two beautiful young children and they attend church regularly. I don’t have the financial resources to help them or believe me, I would.
Two questions: I know business is business; however, where is the “heart” in business as in the bank trying to take their home away; and what can we do as a family to relieve the stress, strain and despair?
~ Worried Mom
Dear Worried Mom,
Your question is very timely; I was just reading the article in the L.A. Times about how older children, aged 50 to 60, have to move back in with their parents due to financial concerns. I personally know many people [who] are in similar circumstances your daughter is facing, and it is a worrisome time for parents and families.
So as far as the practice of businesses, there are a wide variety of ways banks are responding to the past due mortgage payments. Some are in a position to help more than others. I would advise sitting down with the bank and finding out what can be done. Their answer will dictate the next step and I would advise talking to someone who has knowledge about the lending industry and how best to proceed, someone not associated with that particular bank that holds the home loan.
To your second question: difficult circumstances can impact relationships, whether it is a health crisis, a job crisis, or a housing crisis. It is good to look at what choices you can make, and which have been made for you. You always have a choice, just not the one you wish for. Being realistic and laying out the options you have is a good way to form a plan that may be painful in the short term, but will pay off down the line.
As far as relieving stress and strain of this situation, talking to the pastor at their church is a good first step. Also asking them what they need is a good way to be the most helpful. Do they need help around the house, babysitting and a trip to a park? Listening is the most underrated way we can help support others; taking the time to be attentive and understanding is golden.
Of course, praying for them, and even for the bankers, is a good way to discern how God is working in this situation. We have just celebrated the power of God who raised Jesus from the dead; this resurrection power is at work all the time, bringing new possibilities to even the most difficult situations.
Lastly, it is important for you to be balanced and at one with God during this time; you are needed to be a steady hand in the difficult times ahead, and with God’s help you will be.
Pastor Steve Poteete-Marshall
Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church
Dear Worried Mom,
There is nothing harder than living in the world and wearing it like a loose garment at the same time. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t understand the cruel realities of business or an attitude of profit first, compassion later. So when I’m up against those painful realities that might be causing the stress, strain and despair you are speaking of, I have to go to my spiritual teachers. My favorite of Jesus’ teachings in times of trial is Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus reminds me that I am of such great value to God in being of service to God that I will always be taken care of by God. God cares for the birds of the air; will not God care for me also, giving me everything I need to thrive in this life?
Not worrying is the most difficult thing in the world. Taking some time out with your favorite spiritual book for quiet meditation or prayer under times of duress can calm our hearts and minds but goes against everything the world says about what we should do. We need to make sure we are taking care of business, paying the mortgage, the bills, taking care of our bodies, being a good employee, etc., but taking time out for our spiritual life is just as important. Once we are calm and not acting out of panic mode, we can then ask for help. Maybe there is someone your daughter or son-in-law knows who could give them more insight into the banking system, refinancing, fighting the foreclosure. Praying and inviting the Spirit to walk with us while negotiating the landmines of life helps us to allow what will be to be without fighting or causing ourselves and our loved ones more stress and strife.
And then there is this last line from the Matthew passage that is always helpful to remember and reminds us to live in the now: “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Peace to you and to your family.
Episcopalian Church Postulate
QUESTION: This may be difficult to believe, but I’m a Republican writing to defend President Obama. I was raised to believe that once a leader is elected, in the spirit of democracy, we should support them. Quite frankly, I’m tired of Obama-bashing, much of which is done by my so-called Christian friends who seem to have split personalities. So much for unconditional love.
Why is it that people of faith react differently, totally ignoring their spiritual beliefs, when it comes to politics?
~ Frustrated Patriot
Dear Frustrated Patriot ~
Sadly, politics has a way of bringing out the unsavory side of people. Even those most dedicated to their faith can get sidetracked by the mere mention of someone who does not espouse the same political tenets or share sentiments that do not align with their own values and morals. Some may even engage in activities that smear the reputation of our leaders through excessive criticism, delegitimizing the strength of our country, our policies, and our character as a nation. William Wilberforce once commented about resisting opportunities to demonize our enemies in favor of expressing love toward them. Although this has been modeled throughout the ages by spiritual leaders as appropriate behavior and as a living example of unconditional love, people of faith, as with anyone else, sometimes have a tendency to abandon their beliefs and operate under a misguided arrogance that serves to undermine the true essence of the quest, which is often to right some wrong or correct an injustice. Practical application of belief systems and the foundations of faith can be elusive in the heat of a political moment or argument, rendering an unfortunate disregard for the spiritual truth in favor of a more temporal solution.
In the end, those who choose to neglect teachings such as these will be held accountable and will be culpable of not heeding the examples set before them. Perhaps those who see the injustices in these types of practices, such as yourself, will be able to model more appropriate behavior and express tolerance and regard for political leaders, as well as to those who display demeaning practices, as an example of unity, support, and national pride.
Kudos to you for supporting the spirit of democracy even though you may not accept the totality of the platform.
YMCA Chaplain Services
Dear Frustrated Patriot,
It seems to me that what is lacking in those who feel it necessary to bash political leaders who don’t follow their partisan persuasion is the fruit of the Spirit. And the first fruit of the Spirit talked about in the Scriptures is the one you referred to in your comments – love! The kind of unbiased, non-sectarian and unconditional love that Christ himself lived and taught.
Unfortunately we live in an increasingly permissive society that is reaping the self-centeredness and lack of respect for authority that has become prevalent since the 1960s. Even some who profess to be followers of Christ have been caught up in the selfish mentality that it’s acceptable to say anything about anyone at any time, especially if their beliefs and values don’t align perfectly with theirs. This is directly contrary to what Christ admonishes regarding love.
New Testament writers such as the apostle Paul gave clear instruction regarding the approach we should take towards our leaders. He wrote, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
He also told the Roman Christians who lived under strict Roman domination, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2)
Jesus himself clearly taught that we should show respect and honor to those in authority over us when he answered the religious leaders of his day regarding their question of paying taxes. (Matthew 22:15-22)
People today need to respect authority. And those who profess to be followers of Christ should be first in line – no matter who occupies the White House.
Pastor Randy Foster
Christian Life Church