“God will provide…” I heard that a lot growing up. At various times throughout my childhood, my dad was a Christian school teacher, a pastor or both. Any way you look at it, he wasn’t rolling in the dough. Most of the time he was only scraping up enough flour to make a thin paste. I remember going several weeks in a row without my dad receiving any pay check. Though we qualified for government aid many times over, my parents refused to apply. Add to this a liberal dose of fairly serious health problems for my dad, mom and even myself, and you have a very interesting picture. Still, God did provide. I never went hungry, slept on a park bench or wore threadbare clothes. It didn’t make sense. We didn’t have the money, but we always had what we needed and the medical bills always got paid.
When I was little, I just took it for granted. I knew we didn’t have a lot of money, but I never worried about it. The closest I came to stressing out about money matters were those Christmases when Dad warned us there might not be any presents. (I should mention that money always turned up for Christmas, too.) I did not know the details of our financial situation, but Mom and Dad were taking care of it, so I didn’t trouble myself. They said God would provide and I believed it.
But now, I’m an adult and I don’t live with my parents anymore and I have to take care of it. Guess what. God still provides. Though I’ve been told I’m an excellent writer, I’ve as yet been unable to convince any publishers that the population at large will think I’m an excellent writer and buy books. So, I’m not making a whole lot of money at the moment. I have enough to cover the bills, school, gas, daily expenses and gas. (Mostly gas.) But I don’t have any extra. Imagine my annoyance, then, at discovering a rash on my elbow last month which quickly began to spread to my legs and neck and arms. After a month of trying various home remedies to no avail, I finally broke down and went to the nearest walk-in clinic. (By the way, I have no health insurance.) I was a little peeved. It looked like I was going to have to break into the money I’d been saving up for next school semester, and I was not impressed. But something had to be done. My neck was one mess of hives and I itched constantly. One hundred and fifty dollars later, I was back home on a low dose of steroids and some gooey stuff to put on my elbow. I had also been informed that my blood work had not been normal. So I really ought to follow up with a rheumatologist. I remember telling myself, “God will provide.” And then I thought, “Yup, right out of my savings account. Oh well, at least He put money in my savings account.”
About a week later, I found myself at a wedding rehearsal where I was to be the main pianist. I had been practicing for this wedding for several months and I played well. Not perfectly, but well. Afterwards, the father of the bride walked up to me and said, “I just want to thank you for all the work you’ve put into this and here is a little something for your trouble.” He pushed a one hundred dollar bill in my hand. Later that evening, the groom pulled me aside and said, “I saw that my father-in-law gave you something for playing, but I also wanted to give you something too.” I looked down at a fifty dollar bill. I had not planned on being paid for that wedding. Certainly not a hundred and fifty dollars. The groom and his family are long-time friends and I considered my playing as more of a wedding gift to him and his honey. Still, in one evening, God dumped the entire cost of that doctor visit in my lap.
That was pretty neat. But there’s more. I set up an appointment with a doctor my parents have gone to for years. A very no-nonsense, no-frills M.D. (“Don’t go to that rheumatologist,” he said cheerfully, “All he’ll do is pump you full of Prednisone. Trade a month of relief for a lifetime of misery.”) His visits cost a grand total of fifty dollars. That’s ridiculously cheap, but fifty dollars isn’t exactly pocket change for me. Last Friday, I was busily teaching three of my piano students, all siblings, at their home. In the course of conversation, I mentioned I was excited about the busy weekend ahead of me. I was going to be graduating for my Associates Degree in Arts and it was so good to be done with school for the summer. As I was leaving, their mom handed me an envelope and congratulated me on finishing. In the car I opened the envelope. Care to guess what was inside the very purple, very glittery card? That’s right. Fifty dollars. I sparkled all day long for more reasons than the glitter.
My parents have been openly criticized for staying in a line of work that paid very little. My Dad’s been called everything from stupid to lazy for teaching in Christian education and intentionally keeping his family in poverty. But I am thankful for being poor, because I know things that a lot of people don’t. For one thing, I know that God provides. People who have always had good jobs and good insurance, do not truly understand what I mean when I say that. So many times when I was young, God provided money that we could not provide for ourselves through people who had no clue that Dad hadn’t been paid for weeks or that he was staring several thousand dollars- worth of medical bills in the face. I got to see God work on our behalf first hand, and it’s because of our poverty and God’s work that I could face my own financial situation with relative peace. It’s a level of discomfort that I would not trade for anything, because it’s allowed me to see God follow through on His promises. King David said, “I have been young, and now I am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25) It’s true. I know. God will provide.