When we were expecting our first child in July 1986, we met with my husband’s company’s HR person. We said, please tell us worse case, how much we should expect in medical expenses. They told us the average at the time was around $800 but if I ended up with a cesarean, worse case would probably be up to $1,200 out of pocket. Well, no one factored in that I would have to go into the hospital a couple days early with high blood pressure and toxemia. Then have a cesarean and then Steven having to stay an extra day, due to his jaundice! So our out of pocket was over $1,600. Thankfully we had been able to save close to $2,000. What we also didn’t expect was when Steven was just 4 months old we would start going to specialist and have some very expensive testing done. By the time he was 6 months old our savings was wiped out, but unfortunately there were still many more medical bills to come during the next several months. By the fall of 1987 we had accumulated an additional $1,500+ of out of pocket expenses for medical bills. Some of that we were able to pay but a large portion of it we had to borrow and was looking at paying some pretty high interest on it.
During our first year of marriage I remember our Pastor talking to us about tithing. We gave a little offering to the church here and there when we had it, but it certainly wasn’t a tithe, which is 10% of your income. Our Pastor was sharing with us scriptures out of Malachi chapter 3, about tithing and how we aren’t robbing the church but we are robbing God when we do not tithe to our local church. I remember us asking him after his message, “what if we can’t afford to tithe?” Our Pastor was kind, but he again referred us to scripture.
Malachi 3:8-11 (MSG) “Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day. “You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’
“The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.
Our Pastor went on to say, “I don’t know how Christian’s can know God’s Word and feel they can afford not to tithe”. My husband and I were newly married, we were 21 and 18 years young! This on the surface was not good news to us. We felt like we had just been given this impossible challenge. I went home and figured out what a true tithe would be… oh my! I took care of paying all our bills, this would feel like a nice car payment! We made a commitment to give more regularly and give slightly more than what we had been. I thought I will try this for a couple months but if it makes us too tight than we’ll have to back off this giving thing. Well the craziest thing happened. I never noticed it affecting our budget at all, even as we slowly increased our giving. When all those medical bills starting hitting us, we were tempted to stop giving to the church or at least cut back. Surely God would understand that we were not spending our money frivolously… money just only goes so far, right?!
We never stopped our regular giving to the church, even as the medical bills continued to pile up on us that year. That summer of 1987, Steven and I were in a minor accident. Due to a stiff neck and severe headaches for a couple days, I ended up going to the doctors to be checked out and they wanted to check Steven out as well. We had a couple follow up appointments and thankfully we were all good. A few weeks later I got a call from the other person’s insurance company asking if my son and I were ok and I assured them we were. They said they wanted to settle with us. I was just hoping and praying they would cover the medical bills from the accident, which were just over $700. They said we’d like to offer you $2,270 if you will settle with us for that. They explained I had to pay my medical bills out of that but could keep the rest. I was trying to keep a poker voice, as I was silently screaming with excitement! I calmly repeated everything back to them and they confirmed. I said “yes, I will settle!” I figured out exactly what we would clear after paying the medical bills for Steven and I. I then looked at everything we had been out for Steven’s other medical expenses and what we were going to come out with was with in $10 of what our out of pocket expenses had been that year. I called my husband and I called my parents, with the exciting news! Then I remember laying on my bed crying. I was so overwhelmingly grateful!
God made a promise over 2,000 years ago, be obedient in your giving and test me… I watched the heavens open up that day! We were shown that we can’t out give God! He has continued to show us that over and over during our 32 years of marriage!
I know some of you have some amazing stories too, where you stayed faithful even when it wasn’t easy and you saw God show up in mighty way!