Often we feel a conflict from the instruction we receive that tells us to just trust in God and not in our own efforts to take care of ourselves. It seems thought, that if we do not take care of ourselves we become dependent on the handouts and generosity of others and we lose our independence and our self-dignity. So what does it mean to trust in God for all things? This instruction seems a bit counter intuitive.
Elder Paisios says the following,
When we believe in God and have trust in His fatherly providence and concern, then we do not think of ourselves; instead we know that God is aware of our needs and looks after our problems, from the simplest to the most serious one. The only things we must want is to allow God’s love and providence to function for us. When we have this kind of faith and inner disposition, we are able to see God’s miracles––God himself––who is always close to us under all circumstances. I order to experience this we must reject any form of worldly assistance or human hope, and with a pure heart, unhesitatingly and trustfully devote our mind to God. Then the grace of Christ will fill our souls at once.
But, what about our well intended efforts to amass material wealth to protect us in the future, our children’s education, our retirement and so forth?
Some people have the wrong impression, however; they think they can be involved in worldly matters and be attached to material possessions, and at the same time, expect the help of God’s providence. God’s help to people who think this way can be destructive, for it prolongs their attachment to worldly things. God helps them by letting them be exposed to temptations and difficulties; this will eventually make them loath worldly matters and totally devote their hearts to God.
I have observed this at work at a local monastery. Three nuns came from Greece without any money and only a small suitcase with a few belongings. This was five years ago. Now they live on a 100 acres plot with a beautiful chapel, a guesthouse, and a residence for four or five nuns. They have no debts. In addition there are fully equipped workshops, a large garden and a mini farm with animals. They pray and work diligently giving priority to hospitality. They earn enough for basic needs by making icons and selling religious items to those who visit. But untold times, when cash was needed it showed up at the right time. There was no campaign to raise money. They do not worry about money and trust totally in the God to provide whatever they need knowing that He provides for their needs. And He does.
I cant say this is how I live my life as I rely on a retirement fund to protect me in my older years. I have numerous insurance policies for health, auto and home. Although, I have experienced as I let go of accumulated wealth, God does provide in new ways.
A final thought from the Elder,
We must totally rely on God’s providence as this is the only way to be relieved of our anxiety and worries... To trust divine providence one must free himself from all worldly concerns and wait for God to look after him.... He must overcome his love for money and trust in it and then rest all his hopes on God and he cannot do both at the same time.
With this I struggle.
Source: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, pp71-73