Dear Rachel,

I don’t know if you can help me, but we are having so many problems that I’m seriously overwhelmed. My husband takes a detour to catch the bus to work to avoid going by the grocery store where we’ve run up a colossal food bill, which we can barely make a dent in. We’re three months late on tuition payments for each of our children’s schools. I am seriously overwhelmedWe both work full-time and live modestly, but it’s just not enough. We’ve had notices from the bank about our late mortgage payments twice this year, and I don’t even have money to buy a new dress for my niece’s wedding. I’m constantly tense and I feel like I can’t breathe. What can I do?

Over My Head

Dear Over,

First of all, definitely breathe! What you’re experiencing is something many people today are facing, unfortunately—but that’s small comfort, I know.

You say you have “so many problems,” but it seems like you have only one problem—not enough money—althoughMoney is very fluid this one problem manifests in many different ways. And it appears that you have many blessings in your life, thank G‑d—a husband, jobs for both of you, healthy children learning in good schools, your own home, family, weddings. That’s a lot to be grateful for! Focus on what you do have, and this will give you some perspective and restore your life’s joy.

G‑d commands us to be happy. But how can we be commanded to feel happy when we’re going through difficulties? The answer is that most of our misery doesn’t come from our circumstances, but from the meaning we attribute to them. If you’re having money problems, you may think you’ve failed in some way—and you haven’t, because money comes from G‑d. He decides how much each person will receive and when they will receive it. As long as you’re making reasonable efforts to earn your livelihood (and it sounds like you are), then you’re creating a conduit for G‑d to supply you with your needs.

Earning a livelihood should also not be some form of drudgery. We need to use our G‑d-given talents in the world and find joy in what we do. Doing this will also increase the flow of abundance to us.

Money is very fluid. It moves from one person to another as the wheel of fortune turns. Although you might be financially strapped right now, you may find that very soon you will be blessed with more financial success. The fact that you’re currently in a rut doesn’t mean you will always be there. If you thought you would win the lottery tomorrow, you wouldn’t be anxious, would you? G‑d can bring you wealth at a moment’s notice, and putting your needs in His hands is better than buying a lottery ticket.

Having said that, each one of us has an area in our lives that we seem to constantly have to work on, a “theme” problem. G‑d gives us this challengeG‑d can bring you wealth at a moment’s notice to help us grow, just as G‑d tested the patriarchs and matriarchs because He wanted them to discover their spiritual strengths.

In the great school of life, your money problems are your “major.” But your test isn’t how you balance your budget. It’s how you work on things like gratitude, integrity, faith, kindness and generosity, despite all your financial pressures. And G‑d believes you can succeed, the same way a professor creates tests knowing his students can pass them.

Realizing it’s all a test makes it easier to sit the class.

May you merit the honor roll and have much success!