Enough: a faith connection

By Dori Zerbe Cornelsen

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34, ESV).treasure-chest-619762_1920

Jesus talks about the intimacy our hearts have with our treasure before he gets to reminding us not to worry. He encourages us not to store up stuff that that breaks, rusts, wears out and can be stolen. In other words, any stuff stored up is what captures our hearts and becomes what we love. It can take us away from what God intended in the good creation as abundance for all. Rather it becomes scarcity for ourselves.

How do we go from our hearts getting caught up with stuff and move toward the relational possibilities of abundance for all? Maybe it’s possible to journey into such an adventure of discovering enough with our friends, life partners, small group at church or dorm floor.when-you-have-less-stuff-j-becker

I keep going back to an inspirational story about finding enough in the book, Basic Trek: Venture Into a World of Enough: The Original 28-day Journey, edited by Dave Schrock-Shenk, Mennonite Central Committee. In this book Deborah Fast shares a story (Day 16):

Preparing for a three-year term of service in Kenya, my husband and I spent hours carefully packing. “If in doubt, leave it out,” was our motto, as we proudly fit everything into three boxes, two backpacks and various carry-ons. Almost three years later in Kenya, we helped a young Maasai man prepare for a year in Canada as an exchange visitor. We explained Canadian customs, food and weather. We also met at the airport to send him off.

We found Julius near the check-in counter. “Where is your luggage?” I asked. “Here,” he said gesturing to the small bag he carried. “That’s it?!” I exclaimed. “It’s not even full!” “It’s enough,” he said. But Julius also brought two vans, rented for the occasion, packed full of Maasai friends and relatives coming to say good-bye. Dressed in brightly colored traditional garb, they surrounded him with concern and goodwill.

This deeply moving experience has stayed with me. A young Kenyan man, carrying fewer possessions than I would consider “enough” for a weekend trip, heading off for a year in a distant, unfamiliar country. What Julius did carry with him was far more significant – the love, support and sense of identity embodied in the bright red, yellow and blue-clad throng of chanting, singing, and waving fellow Maasai.

Jesus knew that we would discover enough not by ourselves but in the company of others. The good news to which Jesus invites us is to imagine together what new and joyful options there are for living in the reality of God’s abundance. And as Jesus promises, when we put our efforts there “all these things will be given to you as well.”

About the Author:
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Dori Zerbe Cornelsen is a Gift Planning Consultant with Abundance Canada, encouraging and inviting generous living.  She and her husband Rick live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where lots of generous, warm people live in cold temperatures for 6 months of the year.

When It’s Hard to be Thankful

During November the COMPASS Blog is sharing reflections about Thanksgiving and digging more deeply into why we give thanks. Today we welcome back regular contributor and Ecumenical Stewardship Center Executive Director and CEO, Marcia Shetler, who reflects about when it’s hard to be thankful. 

thanksgiving3Canada and the US both have national Thanksgiving holidays: the US Thanksgiving Day is November 26. However, on that day not everyone will celebrate or be thankful. Situations that we, our family and friends, and others in the world have experienced or are experiencing range from disturbing to heartbreaking. When it’s hard to be thankful, what can we do?

We can find many accounts in the Bible of persons who had an attitude of gratitude in the midst of difficult circumstances: Paul; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and David, to name a few. Psalm 33 is a psalm of gratitude, giving praise for many things that God has done. It ends this way:

20 We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone. (NLT)

The Psalmist suggests that trust in God accompanies thankfulness. While we may doubt God’s care for us when we face difficult circumstances, Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the Church of the Resurrection in Overland Park, Kansas, writes that “Rejecting God doesn’t change the situation … it only removes the greatest source of hope, help, comfort, and strength we have.”

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield offers eight ways to stay thankful in hard times, including:

  • Find things to be grateful for;
  • Share stories about things you are grateful for;
  • Help others with their needs;
  • Give, even if it seems like your gift is insignificant.

A measure of our faith, and certainly our generosity, is our trust in God. An attitude of scarcity—that we don’t have enough—comes from a lack of trust. Persons who view life with an attitude of abundance can be generous with their time, talents, and resources because they trust God to provide.

Perhaps this song from the Taize Community can be our Thanksgiving hymn:

In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

In the Lord I will rejoice

Look to God, do not be afraid

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

Image Credit: Thanksgiving