Scott and I were unemployed for the better part of two years. Almost no income for months at a time made everyday life difficult. With many in the nation unemployed, finding any kind of job wasn’t easy. For so many reasons, we shouldn’t have made it. But we did.
Our little savings inevitably ran out long before work showed up. We pinched pennies in every way I could think of. We did without a lot of things that usually no one even thinks about. We lived on next to nothing. But one day, there was just nothing left. Scott and I looked at each other and one of us finally said it. “We’re not going to make it this time, are we?”
That was a terrifying moment. An empty bank account and a nearly bare pantry were intimidating. But the unknown was what weighed the most. Though we were applying for literally every job available in the region, there was no way to know if we’d get work tomorrow or a year from then. We couldn’t pay rent and utilities with air. At the end of the month, I knew the bits of money we’d earned doing odd jobs that month would still not be enough. There was just no way we could pay our bills and eat on that amount of money.
I can’t tell you how many times we prayed for something to happen, for a change. And especially for grace to accept no change.
And something did happen.
I still can’t explain it. It felt as if somehow angels had stretched our little bit of money to be just what we needed. Not more, but just enough to pay our rent and our electric bill. After the first month or two, I knew it would be hard but we’d be okay.
But God didn’t just leave it at that. It seemed like every time things got really impossible, God provided unexpectedly.
Once a bright green envelope addressed in handwriting I didn’t recognize showed up in our mailbox. When we tore it open, five $20 bills fell into my lap along with a little note. Tears blurred our eyes as we read it: “God will provide all your needs”. It was the amount we needed to pay our bills that month Most people had no idea how bad off we were. I can only wait for heaven to tell this unknown friend what their gift meant to two worn-out hearts that day. There was no return address.
Things like this happened more than once. Unexpected money from unexpected places. Random jobs here and there when we needed it most. Extra coupons and free produce when our grocery money was low. Boxes of “samples” of Scott Personal Products on the very day we ran out of toilet tissue.
The little ways that God used to provide for our needs is endless.
In the time of our greatest need, God provided.
- Physically, for “He who gave us life, knows well our needs to sustain it.”
- Mentally, for “if any of you lack wisdom…. it shall be given him.”
- Spiritually, for “He is able to keep us from falling.”
There is nothing too hard for Him. No circumstance. No brokenness. No distance. No question. No confusion. Nothing that He is not able to provide just the strength and grace we need to face it.
It wasn’t just the mysterious money or the unexpected odd jobs and freebies that created this melody of God’s provision. He let me experience just how limitless He truly is when it comes to answering prayers.
Half way through our unemployed season, I was exhausted, discouraged, stressed. I’d been brave and tried to trust and hope for so long. I did believe God would take care of us, but my heart was just so incredibly weary of the daily struggle to just make it one more month. There were people who had big needs, and I had nothing to give. For some reason, that day, it was too much. I ran to my favorite thinking place to cry. I just asked God to just show me in some really tangible way that He still knew how hard it felt right now.
The next morning, I got an email from a stranger who lives far away. She apologetically said she hoped I wouldn’t think this very strange, but that she’d dreamed of a young woman who was distressed about not being able to buy food. In her dream, she offered to pray, and as she began to pray she suddenly recognized the face of the woman from a blog she read sometimes. It was my face. She woke up and immediately wrote out her prayer and emailed me.
What she prayed for in her dream and that email where the three things that I’d cried for the night before. I was speechless. There was no possible way she could have known to pray for any of those things. Only God could have reached across the ocean and given her that dream to pray for us. It was exactly what I needed to restore my courage and hope and I will never forget it.
I learned a lot during our time of being unemployed. I gained a new perspective about frugal living and a new perspective about trusting God.
I learned that our perspectives are limited. God is never limited.
He can reach to the other side of the world and touch the heart of a stranger to intercede on our behalf. He can multiply the little that we have and make it into enough. He may allow hard times. He’s never promised that we will never struggle.
He has promised that He will be faithful and that He will provide for us. Today, I don’t just believe it is true. I know without a single doubt that what He said is true. We experienced it.
Hard days don’t last forever, even though they feel like they will.
Eventually, our days of unemployment came to a close. And with my husband’s first month on the job, the random and unexplained ways that we “just made it” each month mysteriously ended too.
Not every day is easy now. But when things get tight, or when I feel like we’ll never get where we need to be, I go to my desk and pull out that little green envelope with no return address. I re-read that email. I open my journal. And I know everything is going to be okay.
What is your life like now? Are you prospering better than before? Have you been given some kind of major responsibility to handle? Do you sense that season was a part of your “calling”? If so, how do you discern that?
Chantel Brankshire says
I feel like my life has always been good. I have had many beautiful moments even when things don’t go how we hope! I used the hardships of my season of unemployment to push myself. I built a business that I could use as a means to provide for my family for the last seven years. I don’t know if unemployment was part of any calling but like any story and experience, I have been able to use it to offer hope to others who are experiencing the same thing. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about difficult times: they can be redeemed in a sense by being able to stand on the other side and say “I understand”.
Marissa Whitney says
Warren Baldwin says
Linked here from "The Only Thing Worth Walking Toward."
This was a good post. Yes, he is able to keep us from falling. I liked the repeated promises of God's protective care in Isaiah 41:1. I am going to do a post about that either tomorrow (Friday) or next Wednesday. It is a great assurance of God's presence even in the midst of harrowing circumstances of life.