Last time I said that part two was entitled ‘Why do you want to be rich?’, but the nuance in Swahili is a little different to that. It’s more like, “Why are you wanted to become rich?” or “What is requiring you to become rich?” This is an important distinction, because this section is not about examining your motives for desiring wealth and whether they’re right or wrong; it’s about gaining a strong enough motivation that you will be able to persevere. It is the idea that you are being pushed to become wealthy, and the reason that’s pushing you needs to be strong enough to prevent complacency, cause you to be patient, help you to not give up, and to cross every obstacle that comes your way.
This section of the book contains a number of examples of people who had a strong enough motivation that they were able to continue, starting with Jacob working for many years for his father-in-law Laban in order to marry Rachel, and including the prayer of Jabez.
Ufoo gives her own motivation as well, which is the love of her children. She realised there were many basic things that she could not provide for them on her own, but rather than turning to sinful ways of acquiring wealth, she chose to follow God and his promises, that is, to seek out how to acquire wealth in a biblical way. Yet, she cautions, remember that her goal was not wealth. She was looking for a way to provide enough for her children, to have the peace to be able to sleep at night knowing they were provided for.
The obstacles that you need to overcome may paradoxically be the very family for whom you are trying to provide, if they want you to veer from God’s ways. You know that someone has displaced God in your heart when your desire to provide for them leads you to do so in ways that are not pleasing to God. Joseph is given as an example of someone who pursued God’s ways first, resisting the advances of Potiphar’s wife even though it worsened his situation (temporarily).
Ufoo also issues three warnings in these chapters.
The first is to not complain to God, but rather cry out to him for solutions.
The second is that we must continue in faith so as not to delay his response to us. Many people turn to God for a short time, and then when they feel they have not received the response or solution they were looking for, they try something else. They do not look for God’s timing or get to know his wisdom at depth. The example here is the Israelites, who had to go for a 40 year wander in the desert because of their unfaithfulness, when God would rather them have gone into the Promised Land much sooner.
Thirdly, do not give up on your responsibilities. These are the things that ‘require’ your wealth, but giving up on them does not fix your problem. The God who gives responsibilities also gives solutions and he is with us. These family members who depend on you were given to you by God and God wants you to walk with him so that he may give you the ability to fulfil their needs.
Ufoo returns time and time again to this idea of the goodness of God’s ways. Her concluding words in this section are to ask God to give you a heart of wisdom and knowledge so that you can continue to walk in his instructions and promises. You do not need long prayers for this, neither do we need to be afraid, but can continue with courage and peace.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.