When I Couldn’t Pay My Rent
Have you ever had to choose between gasoline and food? I have. Have you ever had to overdraft your account to be able to eat? I have.
As a new believer, I was entered immediately into a series of trials. I was single, healing from the heartbreak of a broken engagement, working two jobs that barely paid more than minimum wage, and not just struggling to pay my bills—failing to pay them. I couldn’t afford rent, let alone car insurance, so when I was pulled over for expired tags (something that completely slipped my mind), I had nothing to show for coverage. One court date later and I no longer had a license.
How was I supposed to pay my rent if I couldn’t drive to work?
Things were tough. I thought my life was falling apart, but truly, God was using these things to put me back together.
The Lord Provides
Looking back, I’m amazed at the ways God provided during that time.
When I didn’t have a license, he provided every single ride to work through a brother in Christ. He provided gas money left by a friend on my counter when I hadn’t told a soul I didn’t know how I’d make it to work the next day. And when I couldn’t pay my rent for not one but three months in a row, the money seemed to come out of thin air. Truly, I still don’t know where it came from.
Wait, yes I do…because “every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17).
But one particular providence of the Lord stands out more than any other.
I looked in the fridge and found nothing to eat. I’m honestly not sure why I even looked. It’s not as if it would change the second or third or fourth time. I finally gave up on my hope that the bare refrigerator before me would magically change its appearance and ate a piece of bread before heading to Bible study. When I came home, what I saw at my door caused me to weep with gratitude.
Groceries. Probably $100 worth of groceries placed on my doorstep. At the time I didn’t know who, but I knew Who. The Lord provides. I wept and praised the Lord that night. I praised him for a stocked kitchen. I praised him for the Body of Christ. I thanked him for his kindness to me in the form of a contented belly.
Eventually, after many months of struggle, he provided what I’d been praying for all along—a better job. And I praised him once more.
Learning to Trust the Lord
At the beginning of my financial struggle that stretched for almost a year, I remember looking at my budget and crying at the sight of it. I lamented to God saying, “How am I gonna pay my bills?” By the end, I saw the disparity between my budget and cash flow and prayed, “Lord, I don’t know how I’m gonna pay rent, but I know I can trust you.” I lay my head on my pillow and slept peacefully. I simply trusted him to provide.
Until that point, I’d lived my adult life forced to learn how to provide for myself. This instilled in me prideful self-sufficiency that the Lord needed to wreck. He also showed me that I could trust him as my Provider—that he wouldn’t leave me stranded. He’d always be with me.
He’d done a work in my heart. Though the suffering of struggling financially wasn’t easy, my heart was settled. I was content.
His faithfulness during that time prepared my heart to remain steadfast a couple years later when the company I worked for abruptly closed, and I was once again single and jobless. I’d witnessed his provision before and I was put in the—dare I say—exciting place to witness it again. Though it was hard, it was beautiful to watch.
Our Providing God
Some of you are facing this very type of suffering right now. You aren’t sure when you’ll see another paycheck. The stimulus (if you even received it) isn’t enough to make more than a small dent in your expenses. You may be afraid and worried about the future of your children. First of all, I’m just so sorry. I lament with you and on your behalf. I understand the pain and the anxiety that comes from poverty.
I encourage you to call out to your Provider. Bring your cares to him in the form of lament. But also, I encourage you to praise him, even as you suffer. He is worthy of our praise in every circumstance. We can trust him to provide not only our physical needs but most importantly, our spiritual needs. He’s working in your heart, drawing you near, strengthening your trust and reliance on him. These are good good gifts that will come from this trial. Rejoice in them.
Whether we fear financial ruin or losing a loved one to this horrible virus, let’s remember that God will provide the grace we need, when we need it.
Let’s all fix our eyes on Jesus as we face these days. The God who provided salvation for us will not forget our lesser (but still important) needs.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:15-16 ESV)