Illustration: Christina Wong, Thir.st
I used to be obsessed with money. It was something my family lacked, so wealth represented power, status and a worry-free life.
My family suffered in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. After Dad’s business folded, we had to sell the family car and learn to live simply. But it was still a struggle for Dad to provide for the family as the sole breadwinner, straining his relationship with Mom.
It got so bad I didn’t feel good adding to his burden, opting out of school trips to choral competitions in Europe. My schoolmates laughed at me. I even thought about skipping university at one stage, just to “save” $30,000 in fees.
Our money issues seemed like the root of all problems. Over time, I found myself enslaved by my fear of not having enough money. Even when I had money from jobs I worked, it was never enough.
But as I dipped my feet in the working world as a fresh graduate, I gradually got sick and tired of being stuck in that relentless chase. Jesus didn’t die for me on the Cross only for me to remain entrapped by the worries of this world. I don’t want to live discontented.
MONEY NO ENOUGH
I remember getting my first paycheque for a part-time job fresh out of junior college. It was exhilarating to earn my own keep for the first time in my life, but that quickly died the next few months and I started wanting more.
Eventually I left to join another company that offered me a higher part-time salary.
My striving continued into my undergraduate years. As a designer, I took on one freelance project after another, but the joy of seeing my bank account inching upwards was short-lived, and was always followed by a sense of emptiness.
I slowly realised that everything was meaningless, because I will never have enough.
Proverbs 16:26 tells us that “the appetite of labourers works for them; their hunger drives them on”. The human condition means that we are always hungry, always yearning for more, but yet never satisfied.
ENJOY WHAT YOU HAVE
Ecclesiastes 6:9 also talks about the appetite – the “roving of the appetite”, the Teacher calls it – which refers to how our affections move impatiently and quickly from one thing to another.
After I bought the DSLR camera I really wanted, I wanted a film camera and then I wanted a new guitar. And oh, the latest iPad Pro too!
How much is enough? Just a little bit more.
The human condition means that we are always hungry, always yearning for more, but yet never satisfied.
In our consumer society, it’s difficult to be contented with what we have. With online shopping, everything is just a click away, and we don’t actually feel the pinch of cash physically being taken out of our wallets. It’s effortless – and a dangerous pit of discontentment.
ONLY GOD TRULY SATISFIES
So how do we choose the wisdom of contentment over the foolishness of dissatisfaction?
I take great comfort in Philippians 4:12-13, when Paul writes:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
God will meet all of my needs abundantly in Christ Jesus. The secret lies in being content in Him. The love of God is something that lasts forever, surpasses all understanding and truly satisfies.
Jesus promised in John 4:14 that “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst”.
When we accept that only God himself can truly satisfy our deepest longings and desires, we stop trying to accumulate the things of this world for ourselves.
Money is never enough, but He is more than enough.