My husband has been without a job for two months now. We need him to have an income or our ends will not meet. At this stage in our lives I wish I could say that we had a decent financial cushion to fall back on but we don’t. I won’t go into all the tedious details but suffice it to say we are already having to use credit to make ends meet. We have been in financial crises before so this is not uncharted waters. Shortly after we married my husband hurt his back and he was off work for a couple of months. I was in my third year of nursing school at the time, attending full time and working a part time job on the side. With this sudden and unexpected drop in my husband’s income I could not afford my tuition fees. I worried about not being able to continue my schooling. I worried about how we would buy groceries. I worried, fussed, freaked out, lost my cool and threw a tantrum. Literally. Right in the middle of our minty green kitchen there I was, literally jumping up and down on the linoleum in frustration and fear. Then a great big fresh fruit basket with coffee arrived from my husband’s work; and a Christian friend and neighbour generously gave us food for our freezer (I’m not sure if that part was an answer to prayer or if she heard me pitching a fit in the kitchen); and I was awarded a grant from the college that enabled me to pay my tuition that semester. Sheepishly, I thanked the Lord. Boy, I sure did learn my lesson (insert sarcasm here). “I’m so glad I’ve learned to trust Thee, precious Jesus, Saviour, friend.” Thank You Lord, You are Jehovah Jireh, my provider.
Oh I was sure I could join the faithful choir now, trusting Jesus all the way. Then when I was working as a public health nurse in 2007-08, I visited clients in their homes. I drove a compact 1999 Hyundai Accent, deep red, two door, manual transmission (yes, I can drive stick!). We had just purchased our first home and I had just finished school and started paying my student loans. I was also pregnant with our son and it was summer; a hot, sticky, humid southern Ontario summer. That I-feel-like-I’m-wearing-a-wet-wool-blanket-in-plus-thirty-heat kinda summer; that give-me-air-conditioning-or-I-will-surely-die kinda summer. And my car had no air conditioning (cue the mini violins). I would arrive at a client’s home and undo my seat belt to see a great big sweaty sash across my swollen belly. And then I started having car trouble. It wouldn’t start and when it did start it would often lurch and jerk along. I prayed for God to fix my car. Please God, You need to fix my car; I don’t have the money to fix it let alone buy another one. Please God, You know I need this car or I can’t do my job!! The car was not fixed. It lurched and jerked and refused to start. I was hot, sticky, gigantically pregnant and irritable; this car business just worked me up further. Couldn’t God see that? Didn’t He care? Well, long story short that old Hyundai continued to faithfully lurch and jerk its’ way around the city until I went on maternity leave. I never did go back to that job and one year later we moved to northern Manitoba where -surprise, surprise – I didn’t need to have my own vehicle. Oh boy, that sure was a good lesson God! Looks like You knew all along that I wouldn’t be needing my old car. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word.” He knows not only my present needs but my future needs as well (go figure!).
Then there was the time a year or so later when we came close to bankruptcy. I can’t say that we were actually peering over the edge but we did see the abyss looming. And then there was the time … well, you get the picture. I could go into other details and stories but I’m sure you have your own laundry list! I have written in the past about how God’s grace has increased my endurance and strengthened my faith and trust in His plan for our lives. I still don’t understand why we seem to be enduring so many financial tests. Is God preparing us to handle great wealth with integrity (this idea is a personal favourite that cheers me up!); is this the thorn in our flesh to keep us humble and not distracted by worldly pleasures (not my favourite thought but a worthy and perhaps plausible explanation); are we trapped in some unknown sin or grossly and ignorantly mismanaging our finances or not hearing from God and therefore in vain circling the same mountain over and over (this obviously is my least favourite scenario). To tell you the truth, after almost ten years of marriage and many financial upsets, trials and challenges, I still have absolutely no clue what the answer to that last question is. Sometimes I wonder if I shall ever understand it this side of heaven. But one thing I do know, whereas before I would have crumbled under the pressure and jumped around the kitchen in a tantrum (oh yes, it happened on more than one occasion my friends!), in this season I am finding that the stretching and training of past trials has allowed me to be more at peace as I wait for God’s plan to unfold. I find it exciting that God has prepared me and given me greater faith to endure longer and trust Him more. It has also been my experience that a new challenge or trial will usually push us beyond our limits because God desires us to grow and become more like Christ. I admit that when that happens I often crack and crumble under the pressure; I start trying to control things or start throwing mini tantrums. How I wish I had such great faith that I would march through the fires of new trials without wavering. Thankfully, because God’s timing and calculations are perfect, if we stay the course – though we may stumble, fall or meltdown along the way – our triumph is ensured in Him!!!
What trial or challenge are you facing today? What storm keeps threatening your faith? Friend, fear not. God’s got this one and God has got you too.
“Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.” (Psalm 143 NIV)