Unemployment, Tithing, and God’s Provision

It’s been a month and a half since my husband lost his job. He’s worked a few different part time jobs, done a little freelance work, and is still currently looking for a nice full time job. It hasn’t been all bad though. We’ve spent more time together as a family, and we’ve learned a lot. And we’ve been stretched. But this isn’t the first time.

When my husband and I got married twelve years ago, my husband insisted that we give a tithe to our church. I didn’t grow up in a tithing family. We put a few dollars in the offering plate and called it good. Granted, we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so that made sense to me. If we didn’t have the money, we shouldn’t tithe, right?

But my husband insisted. And being the loving new wife that I was, I reluctantly agreed. Still, it was hard writing such a big check every week. I mean, I was writing three digit checks. We’re not talking just a couple of dollars here! But out of respect for my husband, I continued to write the checks.

When I became a stay at home mom, our income took a big hit. Still, we kept on tithing. And my attitude began to change. Somehow, through some miracle, we continued to have everything we needed. We didn’t necessarily have everthying we wanted, but we had food, shelter, and clothing.

One time I remember standing in my kitchen. It was December 2001. My daughter was three years old, and it had been a rough year. After two years of trying to get pregnant, we did, but then I had a miscarriage. My dad had had a heart attack a few months earlier. My mom had just been diagnosed with leukemia. And I stood in the kitchen looking at pictures of our family vacation, and I cried.

You see, the pictures were taken with a camera that I had received as a Christmas gift in high school. It wasn’t an expensive camera, and it was dying. The pictures from our vacation weren’t very good. I was feeling sorry for myself, and I cried because we only had one child, and I couldn’t even afford a new camera to take good pictures of her. If only I had $150, I could surely buy a new camera.

I prayed for God to change my attitude. And I said nothing more. To anybody. I knew telling my husband would make him feel bad that he didn’t have a higher paying job. And he was hurting too, as our baby would have been due that week, had I not miscarried. So I dismissed any thought of a new camera.

A couple of days later, I went out to check the mail. There was an envelope from the church. I thought that was odd, because we weren’t expecting anything. When I opened the envelope, I pulled out a check for $150…the exact figure I’d come up with when I thought about a new camera.

When my husband came home, I excitedly told him everything I had experienced…the depression, the prayer, the excitement of opening the envelope. We bought the camera and had some left over for a car repair we needed. What a blessing!

And the thing is, that’s not the only time Jim and I have seen God’s provision in this way. We continue to tithe on my husband’s small check from his part time job. But I don’t stress about money anymore, and my reluctance at writing the tithe check has turned to joy and gratefulness. I know we will have what we need. And we may or may not be blessed with what we want. But that’s OK. My faith has grown through the hard times, and I treasure that growth.

I often think back on that lonely day in my kitchen and know that God hears my cry and cares about me. And I know that someday I will be able to look back at my current situation and see how God worked in my life.

In times like these, I lean heavily on Romans 8:28.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Over the years I’ve learned that God’s definition of “good” and my definition of “good” are sometimes different. In the short term, God’s definition of good may look pretty bad to me. But in the long term, His definition of good is always better than I could have imagined.

Had we not gone through that terrible time in 2001, I wouldn’t have the memory of the despair I felt in the kitchen that day followed by the joy of realizing that God heard my cry and cares about me. And it’s often at our lowest times that we are able to see the love of God the clearest.

So despite our tight financial times, I will continue to tithe joyfully. I don’t know how it all works out, because it seems God’s math is different than my math. But I do know that He is worthy of my trust, and He won’t let me down.

97 thoughts on “Unemployment, Tithing, and God’s Provision”

  1. I just want to remind everyone that dissenting viewpoints are welcome on this site, as long as they are respectful. There seems to be a problem with that lately, so disrespectful comments and parts of comments have been deleted, as per my comment policy. http://www.beingfrugal.net/abo.....re-policy/

    This post is about my personal experience and was not meant to turn into a debate on religion. Since it is an old post, and only those who want to debate religion seem to be commenting anymore, I am closing the comments.

  2. I really get tired of reading comments of people that don’t believe there is a God that controls all, is the creator of all, and holds all of our fates in his hand.

    As far as giving our money away, it wasn’t our money to begin with. Everything we have we owe to our God so what’s the big deal. My wife and I cheerfully give to the Lord every week. God is not a bad steward of something that is already His. He allows us to use it to further the work of the church in our respective areas.

    Finally, I want to say that I am a 50 year old college student with a wife that works part time. We still give and will always give to our Lord’s treasury each first day of the week. 10% is NOT required so we give what we can cheerfully give and feel good in our hearts because God knows that we give all that we can. God bless you all, even those that don’t believe.

  3. Dear Sheila, Yes I hear you loud and clear. God tells me to give more and more every time I talk to him. He says he and Jesus have big plans, and they need lots of money. My mamma always told me to give to the church, and that’s just what I do. God told me that paying child support was not as important as giving to the church. My ex-wife disagrees, but she will have to take that up with God in the afterlife. For now, the church gets her support checks. Praise his name oh Jesus.

  4. I don’t have a lot of money. I’m a single mom of 3, and we barely make ends meet. However I was taught from an early age that the church needs my money more than I do. The church needs nice buildings to attract more people, and those people will give their money also. God and Jesus needs my money and the church needs my money. How can I argue with that. God tells me in my prayers that he wants more money than I’ve been giving, so of course I will give more. My kids don’t get hunger too often, and they understand. God knows what’s best, and he says that If I can’t make a rent payment or two, that’s ok, because he loves me. Everytime he asks for more money he says he loves me. He must really love me, because he sure asks for a lot of money.
    Praise Jesus’s name

  5. I remind myself that God has provided for us and will continue to do so. We’re also taking the time to continue to refine our spending and savings, not a bad thing.

  6. @Anonymous – I pray that everything works out for you. As someone who’s been there, I believe God will provide for you. It might not be easy, and you might only be able to afford the basics, but you will have everything that you need.

    Blessings to you, and thanks for sharing.

  7. sorry but I had to make this Anonymous as the sensitive nature I can’t really talk about it on my blog either:( but trust me I’m a regular reader.

    We’ve been hearing rumors for a while that my wife’s company (she’s the breadwinner) will be restructuring again. Nothing new happens all the time, expect this time she was asked to help out on a project who’s main focus is to eliminate her whole department. She also had to sign a non disclosure agreement (hence the reason for Anonymous) We simply don’t know if at the end she or any of her co-workers will have a jobs down the road. We both feel the chances are very very high that she will be unemployed sometime in the not to distant future.

    Now the part regarding tithe. Recently my Wife and I started giving tithe and have seen God really pour out the blessings. We both felt that this fall we should up the ante and increase it. Now that the hard part. Keeping tithe going while we cut costs elsewhere trusting that God will provide. I’m 99% sure that God will provide but seen enough other Christians have financial problems that there is that small seed of doubt.

    We both talked about it and decided to keep our previous commitment and take it month by month. I am going to put in more effort to cut costs ramp up our savings and get some more of our debt gone.

    Ultimately we have to place our trust in Gods hands!

  8. There are a few churches that use their money wisely. Its just in the past 25 years all of the churches I’ve attended with my wife (7 churches in all) were not like that. These included small town churches, big city churches, inner city churches, opulent suburban churches.
    They were always after money over and above the tithing. money for paving the parking lot, money for a bus, money to send kids on a ‘mission trip’ ie: holiday. Money for excessive sound systems.. the list goes on and on. Helping the poor around the world was secondary. The missions trips were not bad in principal, but sending a dozon kids on a trip to central america where they help with a church is a very poor way to spend money. Just the plane fare alone could have fed dozens of families for months. But the churches always find a way to justify it. sigh.

  9. @Spritebear – Wow. I don’t know where to begin. The concept of tithing goes back to the old Testament. And while tithing is never mentioned explicitly in the New Testament, the concept of giving back to God what is already his is mentioned.

    That being said, I don’t think people should be legalistic about the 10%. That’s what my husband felt we should give, and in faith I went along with it. And out of that came the story that is my post.

    Tithing isn’t about money. It’s about faith and attitude. It’s about trusting God to take care of you, even in hard times. It’s about being so grateful for the blessings you have that you joyfully give back a portion to be used to help others.

    There are a lot of comments in this thread about “padding the church coffers.” If you truly feel that your church is using the money you give purely for the purpose of building larger buildings, then perhaps you are going to the wrong church.

    I’ve mentioned before in the comments here that I’ve never gone to a church like that. I have been in the church building on a weekday, when there are people from off the streets standing in the foyer, because they need a little help. And our church helps them. We have a ministry that feeds the homeless every Sunday afternoon. We let community groups use our church building for functions when they need it. 12 step groups who are totally unaffiliated with the church meet there. I could go on.

    The purpose of giving the tithe is to increase our faith and gratefulness for what we have. The church’s responsibility when they receive the tithe is to use it to minister.

    My concern is where I stand before God. My attitude, my obedience, and my willingness to step out in faith. It’s up to God to deal with a church who is abusing money given back to God. And I believe He will someday.

  10. Just because God saved you from yourselves doesnt mean that tithing is Gods will. God has saved me from death a few times when it was my own stupidity that put me there. I have quit going to Church and the false doctrine of tithing is one reason why. I have tithed and it almost killed me. Show me anywhere that tithing is a new testament concept. Its not. Tithing in its present form was invednted by catholics around 500AD as a TAX.
    So perhaps God saved you from yourselves while you padded the pockets of the Church. Perhaps he even honored your intentions but spreading the tithing propaganda bugs me. Too many Christians are sheep who follow people off the cliff. Thats the same reason so many (me included before I got a brain) voted for Bush.
    May God Bless You

  11. John while I agree with supporting the church the idea that a tithe is 10% of the gross simply isn’t scriptural, if anything it’s legalism. My own personal take is that support needs to be a consistent amount that you can afford, and as your faith grows so does your giving. I’ve talked to quite a few pastors regarding tithing, including ones who rely on support raised and non of them would commit to the idea of 10% tithing. If you want to know more go to Tithing Debate

  12. God speaks to me every time I tithe. I hear his loving voice telling me how much he loves me and my money. It’s a blessing to give to the lord. He needs the money more than I do. I would only spend the extra money on things that don’t last. He uses my money to build heaven. If we don’t have enough to eat or we miss a rent payment, God says that’s okay. He still loves me even If I don’t eat. He was telling me before that I was getting too large. Maybe this is his way of helping me loose weight. God is great, God is wonderful. I love God and Jesus so much. May God Bless everyone as much as he blesses me.

  13. Some wonderful stuff here. The very principal of tithing is missed by some. A tithe is 1/10 of all your income. Any less is not a “tithe”. The idea is by giving your first fruits to God you are stepping out in faith. When you honor Him with your wallet,not just your mouth..weird/unexplainable things happen to your finances.With each check your perspective on money changes, and at some point you realize you are ahead of the “jones'”,but are no longer concerned with that sort of thing.

  14. @bipolar2 & Mr. D – While I appreciate different opinions on my blog, I do ask that the comments be kept respectful. Please refer to my comment policy (link in the sidebar) if you have any questions.

  15. If you guys get blessed so darn much, why do so many people in this world suffer so much. Wouldn’t a loving god be a little more fair? I’ve heard the ‘free will’ b.s. and a bucket load of other flimsy excuses. I am so sick and tired of people going on about how they were blessed (new promotion, great deal on the BMW, kids with straight teeth). Then you look elsewhere to other countries… for instance in Africa. They get the short end of the stick. They would be happy with a darn stick to put in the fire.
    Maybe gods not really there? I think thats the real truth people.. deal with it.

  16. I was so moved by God’s love in hearing your heart, that I fell to my knees to worship Him. He is so loving and gracious. Tithe? Yes, it’s bibical and He always has a reason for what He says. He allows outblesses what we give cheerfully. What a GREAT God we serve! I could write all morning on the ways He has blessed me supernaturaly but all He really wants is for us to love Him and obey His Word. Please check up on all the promises He gives us. AWESOME! Much love to all my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

  17. @mj – I’m glad you have seen blessings from tithing.

    Mr. D – I agree with Rob & Patrick that the problem isn’t with the church, but rather the people who are in charge. If that has been your experience with a church, then maybe that’s not the right church for you. There are plenty of churches out there that sincerely try to serve the Lord by helping the poor in the neighborhoods around them. There are a lot of megachurches that give the rest of us Christians a bad name, but honestly I’ve been to some good megachurches, too. Just because there are a few bad apples doesn’t mean that all churches are bad.

    @ Rob – You are absolutely right. We always need to be looking to God. People aren’t perfect, and they will always let you down. But God can and does work through imperfect people every day.

    @ Patrick – Thanks for weighing in. You are right on. The problem isn’t with God at all. It’s important to go to a church where the leadership sincerely desires to follow God. Yes, they will make mistakes, but if they are sincerely trying to follow God, God can work through and use those mistakes for His Glory.

  18. Everyone seems to forget what attending services is all about. We are there to serve the Lord. If someone has had a bad experience with “the church” then it is the people there that they have had a problem with, not God. Men are the ones that seem to think that their wisdom is greater than God’s and every single time it is proven that they are wrong.
    The mega churches are no more than money machines for the so called preacher that is doing the speaking for them. Health and wealth preaching will continue to bring down the Lord’s people until we all realize that we should follow Jesus’ advice to the rich young ruler. Sell everything, give it to the poor and follow him.
    I pray that we all wake up before it is to late for us. God bless!

  19. Mr D you bring up two separate issues. One your anger with church, it took me years to understand (while I more or less keep my faith we stopped attending church for a period of about 10 years and only very recently started attending again) is that the church is full of people and when we look to people we will always be let down. (This is somewhat the church’s fault). It took me a long time to understand that my relationship is with God not the church, both my wife and I had to learn to look to God not to the church.

    Secondly American churches do tend to have a emphasis on large buildings unfortunate but true.

    How much to give, net gross, I can’t answer that for you only that for us we’re learning that the 90 goes further than the 100. Ours happens to be a poor church that doesnt yet pay any saleries so buildings aren’t an issue for us :)

Comments are closed.