Money was getting tight, emergency savings had dwindled and medical bills were arriving in the mailbox by the dozens. I had reworked our budget and eliminated frivolous expenses, even cutting out my gourmet coffee splurges [gasp!]. I had taken on more hours at work.
We were considered very comfortable, middle-class Americans. We lived a debt-free life outside of our mortgage, and still we had higher demands for money going to medical bills than what we could afford.
It is insane what a long illness can do to a family’s finances! We had good health insurance, and yet with large deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expenses, a $50 copay per visit (often 8 per week), $250 copay for hospital admittance ($400 if ER), more pharmaceutical copays than you could imagine…and our main income provider too ill to be working, we faced the potential of taking on debt.
I was completely exhausted the day I found five new hospital bills in our mailbox. I searched our bank accounts as tears welled up in my eyes. I had been juggling finances so well, putting off purchasing kids’ clothes (thankfully cuffing jeans into capris for girls is cool right now); cooking less elaborate meals to repurpose grocery money; forgoing my beloved 5K races so I could funnel entry fees towards medical and pharmacy copays.
I had come so close! I had fallen $1,350 short.
As I called out to God for guidance, I felt Him leading me to reach out to our church family. Our church has a benevolence fund. (Ironically, it is one that we had contributed to.)
“We are a family that gives, not one that takes, Lord. We have already spent multiple tens of thousands in this battle and all we need is the $1,350 for these final 2012 hospital bills.”
As I wrangled with what God was telling me, a plan began to form in my mind. (I am really good at “helping” God solve my problems. Can anyone relate?)
I presented my solution to God on how “we” were going to fix this. I could use tithe money to pay these bills. Rather than me giving to the church and then turning around and asking the church for benevolent assistance….we could cut out the middle man! I could call and set more payment plans up with the hospital and then use our tithe to make the payments. Problem solved.
“No”, said God.
“We would avoid being turned to collections.” I argued.
“Lord, it’s uncomfortable and awkward to ask for financial help.” I half-pleaded.
Sobs racked my body as I made the call. In humility, I met with one of our precious deacons and his wife. With a shaky voice and sweaty palms, I presented our situation and my folder of medical bills to this godly couple whose daughter had been our babysitter for years.
You know what they did? They loved on me and prayed with me. [And they bought me a coffee!] They offered to present our request to the church elders for consideration and in the meantime, they hugged me and ministered to my soul.
I was completely exposed and broken before them and God used them to lift me back up.
Our church discreetly presented us with the funds a short time later and I mailed those tear stained checks off to the hospital with PAID IN FULL written on each memo line.
Obedience can be painful, but God is faithful to fulfill His promises.
Thank you Lord, that when we humble ourselves before You, You are faithful to lift us up. Amen.