Last weekend, I filed my taxes. A strange fact about me: I love completing my taxes. This is probably a combination of the fact that they are simple and that I always end up getting some money back. But there is joy for me in completing my taxes that comes from a different source. Each year, my W-2 is a symbol to me of God’s faithfulness. Benjamin Franklin famously said that the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. But for those of us who believe, we have much more certainty than that. We have promises from a God who cannot change.
Some people get angry about taxes, and while I don’t blame them, I try to see things from different perspective. I don’t love paying taxes, nor do I think that our government in any way deserves the money it takes. But God has told us to be subject to these earthly authorities. Jesus told us to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Further, Jesus told us not to worry about having our needs met, because our Father in heaven knows what we need and also loves us. To rephrase some verses, our God is faithful beyond all that we can ask or think. When I say that filing taxes is a reminder of this faithfulness, it is because I see how God has provided me with so much.
About fifteen years ago, I hadn’t had enough money withheld from my paychecks, and I owed money for my taxes. It was money that I didn’t have. I didn’t even have available credit on my credit card. I was underemployed and struggling. I had to borrow money from my parents. It wasn’t easy for me to ask for help, and it isn’t as though my parents have ever been flush with cash. It was a tough and humbling situation. I tell you this because it underscores for me God’s provision each year since. He provided for us then, and He continues to provide. I am continually astounded by God’s steadfast love to me. I know that I don’t deserve anything. I also know that even if I had to live on half of what I currently do, I would be rich because I would still be living in America and making more money than the majority of people in the world.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
This reminder of God’s faithfulness came at a perfect time, since last weekend I was struggling from my clash with the enemy. Understanding the depth of God’s unchanging love in the midst of difficulty can allow us to have peace and joy. Last Sunday morning in church, I realized that all of the stress and anxiety my sister and I have been dealing with, really points to God being at work in our lives. If anyone remembers my blog the week after Christmas, The Paradox Of Prayer, I had prayed that God would do what seemed impossible for us. I struggled with it because I felt such faith in the answer when I prayed, and yet, I didn’t want to presume on God or put Him to the test. Now, I am seeing that God is at work in our lives and situations. I know that it will be for our good because we have that promise.
Knowing how faithful and merciful God is, I am trying to learn to model the kind of forgiveness that is only humanly possible through the work of the Holy Spirit. I have been praying for my enemy and praying that I can somehow be a light for Christ in an ugly situation. Even as I’ve prayed that God would soften their hearts, He has softened mine. He has given me terrific encouragement through His word. As I prayed about the situation, He reminded me, “If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) And when I told Him how weak and helpless I felt, He told me, “my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
There is triumph in serving a God who is faithful. Death is certain, but for those whom He calls, we can say that “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10) To those in our lives who do not believe, we must seek to show them God’s love, that they may also have an opportunity to come to Him. I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to do this. It has been part of my prayers all week because I don’t know where to start. But I have peace and joy knowing that the ever-faithful God of the universe is on my side.