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Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money. Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. – James 4:13-14, Amplified Bible (AMP)
According to Today.com:
“For Steve and Darnelle Mason, coping with the 2009 death of their daughter Lisa is traumatic enough, but the California couple’s continued struggle to pay off her student loan debt — which they say exceeds $200,000 —has made recovery even more difficult…
“‘The frustration for me is that I can incur any other kind of debt — I can buy luxuries, I can travel, I can do all kinds of things — and that debt can be discharged in bankruptcy if I become unable to pay for it,” Steve told TODAY.com. “This debt, where young people are falling into debt to better themselves to become productive members of society, can’t be discharged through bankruptcy. It seems like it’s backwards.’
“In 2007, Lisa graduated from San Bernardino Valley College and began her career as a critical-care nurse. Just two years later, the single mother died suddenly, due to liver failure, at age 27, leaving behind three children between the ages of 4 and 9.”
The Masons are not alone. Countless American families have come to learn that student loans are the only debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. As a result, student loans can cripple families not only for a lifetime, but beyond.
I must confess that, as a college student over twenty years ago, I incurred student debt. By the grace of God, I was able to pay off the loans, but as I look forward to my three children’s higher educations, I’m not thrilled with the prospect of going into debt to finance their future. Although the tragic death of Lisa Mason was the cause behind the Masons’ troubles, thousands (if not millions) of other families struggle with student debt because their graduates are not able to find good-paying jobs. I met such a man not long ago who, in his late 40s, was still struggling to pay off debt he had incurred years earlier. He conveyed to me how very heavy his debt burden is, and he longed for the day when he would finally be out from under it.
The world tells us to finance our future, but it does so with the assumption that we will live long enough – and that we will earn money enough – to pay off our debt. Although many have successfully paid off their student debts, many more have not done so due to reasons like those mentioned above. Before we take the leap into financing our futures, we should consider well the lesson of James 4:13-15. We don’t know what the morrow will bring, and anything could happen to prevent our best-intentioned plans from coming to fruition.
Before choosing to finance your (or your child’s) future, investigate ways to fund your (or your child’s) post-secondary education without going into debt. You can start with the following two articles, 5 Ways To Fund A College Education and Unclaimed Scholarships: Get Your Share. If you believe that financing your future is your only option, then consider purchasing life insurance and disability insurance sufficient enough to pay off the debt should tragedy strike.
No matter what plans we make in life – whether they be for our careers or for something else – we should make those plans with the attitude of James 4:15 (AMP):
You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing].
If you would like to donate to the Masons’ efforts to pay off Lisa’s student debt, please visit The Masons’ page on GoFundMe.com.
Robbie Romeiser is a commercial real estate broker, real estate instructor, and author of the daily devotional Today’s Quote From God (www.TodaysQuoteFromGod.com). Desiring to help his own children follow God’s calling in their lives, Robbie founded Career Callings (www.CareerCallings.net) to help people find, prepare for, and pursue the work God has called them to do.