Life is cheap. Except in God’s economy. In the book of Ecclesiastes, the author observes that a focus on money, self-gratification and ambition will come to naught, and that the important thing is to “Fear God, and keep His commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone” (12:13).
When we think that all we need is the almighty dollar to acquire happiness, trouble is in the works. I have struggled with materialism at times. Ironically, it may stem from having chosen a life of limited income: I chose to stay home with my children, despite having a degree and training that would have earned us a greater paycheck and financial stability. But, I knew that raising my children at home was what I was called to do.
It also seemed to me that I--and by extension, the rest of the family--would enjoy life to a greater degree if we did not have to worry about two full-time work schedules, daycare and all the issues that come with that. Simple things matter, like enjoying lunch in your own kitchen with a three year old chatterbox, or a hot cup of tea on a porch on a rainy morning, or spending time with a friend on a weekday afternoon.
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Ecclesiastes 5:17-19.
My early choices in my married life reflect my best decisions: choosing relationships over riches, and peace over profitability. Twenty-three years ago, I was fairly militant in my belief that a mom should stay home with her children, especially when a child is under the age of four. Today, given the incredible financial pressures many moms face in this weak economy, my choice might be different. Might have to be different.
But, money is still secondary to the importance of people. As a Christian, I believe that God will provide--I have seen His provision in my life and in those of others. This truth does not mean He gives us what we want, but He does give us what we need in life. We need Him, one another, and maybe a lovely cup of hot tea.
Mary Cassat. On the Meadow. 1880, private collection.