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.



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By , on Dec 6, 2007
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{97 Comments}

  1. Carol:

    Great post today.
    Don’t you just love it when it gets people thinking and “talking” about God and our faith in Him.
    Yes, I tithe and live on money WAY below the poverty level, but do have everything I need.
    Not my will, but Yours be done.

  2. I really admire you for continuing to tithe in the face of adversity.

    God Bless You!

  3. Tithing and believing in God are two different things.
    In my good times and even in my bad times I believe in God its not that tithing increases my belief or God will help me only if I tith.I think there is no correlation between the two.

    I am strong believer. one thing I believe is that whatever may be the odds against me, there will 1% is of God which will be in my favor and I will surely get help. Let the rest 99.00% rest against me I ll still fight it off.

  4. I have been slowly increasing our tithing by each month. Creeping up a little at a time. It feels good!

    I saw God working today. He gave me enough to pay the sewer/water bill. He gave me the $115 through money people had paid me back and an unexpected babysitting job. We had .52 in our account, so subtract the .12 to add to the bill and we have a whopping .40 to go wild on! ;)

    I love the whole book of Romans!

  5. Lynnae:

    @boomeyers – Isn’t it incredible how He gives you exactly what you need? Thanks for sharing! And Romans is one of my favorite books too.

  6. I enjoyed reading your story and all of the comments. For years, we believed that tithing was just an old testament thing and that the New Covenant meant to give as you prospered. Thankfully, we’ve come to see that tithing means just that–even if it comes from the old Testament. We’ve been tithing regularly for sometime now. I would be afraid not to.

  7. Becky:

    I always love hearing stories about mystery money appearing when it’s needed most. I pray the Lord continues to bless you and provides your husband with an awesome job :)

  8. Lynnae- that’s an amazing story!

    @Rob and other who may wonder about this- the New Testament doesn’t say you have to tithe, but giving from your heart is what matters (and that could mean you should be giving much more than 10% of your money).

    On a personal note, I am a Christian and I have chosen NOT to tithe while I am getting out of debt. The way I look at it, it’s not really my money anyway if I owe it to creditors. And you know what, God has continued to bless me. We have made amazing progress and we are making more money now than ever in our lives. I’m not advocating people don’t tithe, but you need to pray about it and search your heart for the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about it.

  9. Rob in Madrid:

    As I said I’m looking forward to Richards series on tithing (or more correctly stewardship), I’ve been pushing him to be more open about the financial needs of the church. Part of this has been the realization that our church depends alot on others who give above and beyond. My wife and I have been working on being consistent in our giving, less hit and miss and treating it more like a bill that needs to be paid regularly.

  10. Lynnae:

    @FinanceAndFat – “you need to pray about it and search your heart for the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about it.” That is exactly right. If God is leading you to do something, listen to Him, rather than anyone else.

  11. Lynnae:

    @Rob – Thanks for pointing me to the GRS forum, too. That’s an interesting discussion. I just registered, so I can weigh in, too. :)

  12. Rob in Madrid:

    Billy Graham had an interesting take on tithing

    we should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately.

    This sums my view up completely.

  13. Lynnae:

    @Rob – Thank you for your thoughts. It’s a difficult subject for sure. I haven’t checked out the discussion at GRS yet.

    I don’t believe we should become legalistic about the tithe. I think God is blessed when we give with a joyful heart. It’s not the same if you treat it like a bill and resent giving. I don’t think that’s what the tithe was meant to be.

    I do think everyone should give a little, even if they’re broke. There’s just something about giving that changes our attitude about our own situations.

    My husband has always felt led to give a full tithe, and now I’m on board with that. But that’s what God has put on our heart. I’m certainly not going to judge someone else, if they don’t feel led to give that much.

    So, I guess that’s my take. Be prayerful about how much to give, and then do what God leads you to do. :)

  14. Rob in Madrid:

    Over at getrichslowly.org there is a discussion of this very thing Tithing or charitable donations for the non church attender.

    Subject came up about a family that is struggling to get by but still give tithe

    Financial Advice for Poor People

    http://tinyurl.com/2ddtsx

  15. Rob in Madrid:

    interesting, I’ve been thinking alot about the very same thing. I’ve been bugging our pastor for a while to do a series on tithing. Our church is a missions church and what ever my miss givings on tithing have been I recognize that our church exists because there are people who give above and beyond what is expected of them.

    I’m still torn about what to do about tithing while I believe in supporting the church and God’s work I am of two minds. I’m a believer in being realistic, give what you can afford but not enough to cause hardship and on the other hand I’ve seen God move so many times in our lives, stepping in and rescuing us from our own stupidity (latest one was finding out about frugal living made an unbelievable difference in our lives) that I’ve learned that when things seem darkest and doors have been slammed in our face that one only needs to sit back and wait for God to move. And he has many many times. I think that is the reason why we’ve started giving tithe (that and we’re back at church again long story – but few options for Church in Europe) is that I know that God has moved in our live and well, why put that at risk for the want a few dollars.

    A few questions I have for Richard to cover. Is tithing a bill that has to be paid every month. If it’s a choice between tithing and rent do you pay the tithe? Do God always provide, and if so why do some Christians how give tithe suffer financial hardship. Do you have to give all your tithe to the church, can you support non church or even non christian organizations. And of course is tithe 10%? Should keep him busy for a while. Also how much is our view of tithing is coloured by the prosperity gospel that says you should give in order to get that new Lexus you soooo deserve.

    AS an aside Malcom Gadwell did an interesting article on SaddleBack Church. What suprised me was the fact they are very very strict on tithing which goes against their image of an easy going laid back church.

    http://www.gladwell.com/2005/2.....arren.html

    Well worth reading, quite and eye opener and remember Malcom Gladwell issn’t a Christian writter.

  16. MichelleH:

    Hi Everyone,

    Lynnae, what a wonderful testimony!

    I can testify that God will definitely never be in our debt. He’s promised to meet our needs if we’ll put Him first in our hearts and in our giving. We’ve had many times in our 27 years of marriage that we can look back on and we absolutely knew we’d not have made it financially if God hadn’t been providing in ways we couldn’t imagine. He’s a good Father!

  17. Lynnae:

    @Amanda D. – God is definitely blessing us. Thank you!

    @Amanda R. – I’m glad that you heard what you needed to this morning. I pray that God will provide for you in a miraculous way.

    @E.D. – You’re completely right. It’s not our money to begin with.

    @Heather – God is definitely good!

    @Plonkee – There is definitely something to be said for the attitude change that happens when you tithe regularly.

    @Mrs. Micah – There’s always plenty of hugging taking place in our house. But I will make sure I collect an extra hug from my husband, just for you. :)

  18. God has been known to work a miracle now and then. ;-)

    I love the Scripture you quoted. We must always remember, no matter how bad things seem to get, that God has our greater good in mind.

  19. E.D.:

    We also pay our tithing each month. I’ve paid tithing my entire life, so I hardly even think about it anymore. I did get my settlement sheet for the year last week. It’s a big number but I just consider that it’s not our money to begin with.

  20. Amanda Roby:

    Thank you. I can’t and won’t give you my full story here, but your words about God brought me to tears today. I needed so much to hear again that He will provide. Thank you, and God bless.

  21. Great story! The situation is flipped in my world- I’m a huge tither, but I’m slowly bringing my reluctant husband on board. I’ve also see God work first-hand in other people’s lives who needed money. It just showed up in their mailbox too (from friend or family or the church). I hope that God blesses you during this difficult time in your life & I’m glad to see you are reflecting on God’s love and provisions that he’s given to you.

  22. Thank you for sharing your testimony of the principle of Tithing. I have had so many instances where I know tithing blessed us-like when DH was in grad school and we were making $11,000/year, we had a new baby and lived in a tiny apartment in the ghetto. We paid our tithing and our needs were always met.

  23. After reading this, I feel like hugging you. Maybe you should collect a hug from your husband…

  24. Honestly, I think it’s the discipline of tithing that makes it powerful. By forcing yourself to make do with less, you become satisfied with less. Being satisfied is good and will make you happy in the long run.

    Almost everyone can survive on 90% of their income and doing so and giving the rest to a cause that you believe in, will make you more content.

  25. Absolutely! I have so many stories like this–like when we were first married and only had $10 a week for groceries but kept tithing and God kept us from even bouncing a check and made sure we had everything we needed, and on and on and on. God is GOOD!

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