Posted by: Mark | March 12, 2010

Exchange Rates and God’s compassion

As Louise and I have lived internationally for approaching 6 years the rate of exchange has become a huge reality in our lives. When we first left the UK we got around 110PHP for £1. This has fluctuated up and down and as of the time of writing I am getting 69PHP for £1. For the mathematical astute that is a drop of 37%. Where did that money go? Who got it? Louise has been teaching Ewan the concept of invisible lately and Ewan has loved naming things that are invisible – I think that this is one of them. Please continue to pray for Louise and I as we live in the reality that is exchange rates.

So what has this to do with God’s compassion? Well if you know me then you will know that I don’t worry about much – it is just my nature and I thank God for being that way. However, one thing that I do worry about is money. So lately as I have watched the exchange rate drop fairly quickly as Brown and Cameroon slug it out and the scary fear of a hung parliament becomes a scary possibility it has not been fun. It still isn’t. But, this morning I was sitting in a meeting listen to someone talk on the topic of Spiritual Vitality – a talk which was very good. At one point in the talk the speaker read the following verse out:

Jonah 4.10-11 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

As I have been thinking through and at times worrying about this exchange rate situation I have been comforted by the fact that God is God and is in control. He knows the exchange rate and he knows what He is doing. This is a huge comfort to me and as this thought slowly descends from my head to my heart, as I see it worked out day by day and year by year, it becomes more and more of a comfort. However, I had never looked at the fact that I had all my priorities messed up – just like Jonah.

Jonah at this point has tried to run away from God and been swallowed up and spat out by a whale. He has then reluctantly went to a city that he did not want to see saved and told them to repent. He has watched them repent and has seen God relent (Jonah 3.10). Then as he sat on the ground a tree sprung up and shaded him. Then we join the story just as God has caused a worm to cause the tree to die.

God is now pointing out at the very end of the book to Jonah that he feels sorry for the plant and even angry enough to die because it is gone. Then God makes this great point – well should I not feel for these people then cause I actually did something for them to be there and there is way more than a sitting on the ground investment in their existence.

My question to myself is – why does it annoy me when the exchange rate drops and I loose theoretical money that is God’s in the first place? Why does this take up time in my brain when it is so insignificant compared to the pressing issues around me? Why is the small big and the big small? God is in control and his heart hurts for people – their spiritual condition and their physical condition. Why does my heart not hurt in the same way?

I know that there are probably many other things I could have and should have learned from this talk (and there were others) but this one hit me where I was at. I hope it helps to focus your thoughts too.



  1. Greetings,

    — big fish, not whale

    It’s also interesting to note that Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and Money.”
    (Luke 16:13b,Matthew 6:24b)

    Money was my concern in going into ministry. It still is a trying point for me too (I need to raise nearly double to go home). But it is quite clear that focusing on money is not what we are called to do. We can’t serve both God and Money.


  2. Great post! You put into words what a lot of missionaries deal with, whether they openly do or just keep it to an inward battle, it seems to always be there in the background.

  3. Hi, Mark.
    I have thought about this general situation over the years.

    You don’t hear of British troops in Afghanistan complaining about the exchange rate. They just expect to be fully supplied with all their needs by the government at home, which in return expects them to spend all their time concentrating on fighting. The generals freely complain to the government when they are lacking equipment such as helicopters. Publicly, at least, the government claims to supply all their needs.

    However, most home churches do not take the same stance with their ‘troops’ that they send abroad to work on their behalf. They seem to think that it is God’s job to support them fully, not theirs. They tend not to be very responsive to changes in circumstances of those abroad. They have other priorities. They have to fully support their pastors, etc.

    If the home churches took fuller responsibility for their overseas workers and their complete support, there would be less unnecessary strain on the workers on the frontline.

    In an older generation, Amy Carmichael was more blunt about needs, priorities and daisy chains, in “Things As They Are”.

    With love to you all,

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