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Gaining it All and Losing it All:  What’s the Difference?

City street with cars, pedestrians

I’m sure you’ve heard the stories.  People who’ve experienced great tragedy and lost everything.  And then there are those who’ve experienced incredibly good fortune and seemingly gained it all.

I had a friend who got caught in the 2008 real estate downturn.  He was on his way to building an impressive nest egg.  But problems with banks, investors and terms led to the loss of everything.  I mean everything from his balance sheet.

On the other hand, I have another friend who started a business from scratch and he’ll admit to you that a great market niche and great circumstances contributed to an incredible exit from the business.  He found himself with more money than he could have ever imagined in his lifetime.

Was either person happier than the other?  To be honest, the man who’d lost everything seemed to be more at peace, happier and grateful.  The man who seemed to have everything possessed a fear of losing it all and found himself checking the stock market ticker all too often.

A long time ago, King Solomon went on a similar pursuit of gain.  He had untold wealth and he used that wealth to obtain everything he thought he could ever want.  The Bible tells us that he kept himself from nothing.  He wanted it all, he pursued it all and he got it all.  Yet in a similar refrain, once he got there, he described it simply and sadly as “vanity and a chasing after the wind.”

In contrast, Job was a man who had it all—great monetary wealth and great family.  But in a stroke, it was taken from him.  He lost it all, including his health.  And in his loss, the Bible records that he sunk down into the dust of depression.

In both instances, Solomon and Job, they both come to realize the same truth: life only has meaning in relationship with an eternal God whose ways cannot be fully understood.

Solomon said it this way: “…then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning.” (Ecclesiastes 8:17 NIV)

Similarly, Job reaches a similar conclusion.  He cannot fully understand the ways of God, yet life cannot be understood without God.  He says simply:

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:2-3 NIV)

Whether wealthy or poor, a meaningful life begins and ends with God.

 

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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