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.