When we first moved to the Bay Area, money was tight. We stressed over whether or not we could buy groceries or pay our rent. And although the Lord graciously met our needs every single time, that phase of life was anything but easy.
One of the ways God provided for us was through various government assistance plans. From subsidized housing to Medi-Cal, my state's version of Medicare, we received quite a bit of help from these kinds of government programs.
And I hated every minute we were on them.
I think many of us who grew up in Christian homes came to believe that accepting help from the government was wrong or sinful. Since God's Word commands husbands to provide for their families, maybe we've just assumed that taking "handouts" of any sort is somehow evading this Biblical mandate. Whatever the root cause, it felt wrong to me to be on these programs, at least at first.
Part of the reason I struggled was because we made a foolishly-quick decision to move to the Bay Area. The job Jon thought he'd secured here quickly fell through, but because we'd already signed a lease on an apartment here, we felt there was nothing left to do but move even though we had no source of income. Had we sat down with some counseling - another wise move we never thought to do - we probably would have realized that the loss of the job negated the lease. (You can read the whole story in my ebook, "A Place Prepared.")
I felt that our financial woes were the result of our unwise choices in life, and in part, they were. Since my brain doesn't always function logically, I also felt that we didn't deserve financial aid because I believed that our tight fiscal situation was all our fault.
However, the Lord slowly opened my eyes to an important truth:
God can use any means He chooses in order to provide and care for His children.
Including government assistance, in some cases.
Erin Odom, blogger at The Humbled Homemaker, has a new book debuting September 5th on this very topic. Called "More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated," Erin does an excellent job of helping to remove some of the myths and hesitations that surround financial aid and government assistance programs.
I love Erin's honesty and down-to-earth writing style. She opens up about her marriage struggles, financial hurdles, and the guilt she felt over applying for the Food Stamps program. As she tells her story, she takes every opportunity to give God glory for providing for her family in ways that she never could have dreamed...including government assistance. With gentle persuasion, she uses God's Word to support her current views on accepting help from the government programs currently available.
"More Than Just Making It" could well be a tool to help encourage you during your lean financial years. As Erin shares about the provision of persimmons - a fruit she didn't even know what to do with - her story of hardship and faith in the Lord will warm your heart.
If you're in a tight financial situation right now, I would highly encourage you to pre-order your own copy if funds permit (and snag the great bonuses that come with pre-ordering!), or if it's not in your budget right now, to request that your local library obtain a copy. Even if you're not hurting for income, this book is an excellent resource to have on hand should you find yourself in a crunch later on in life or as a reference for helping a friend or family member in need.
Does this mean that I think every single person who is in a tight spot must run out and apply for aid programs? No, of course not. Just as with every other situation in life, prayer should be our first line of defense. But I've also come to understand that God's provision for us might not look the way I envisioned it, and I also know that He can use anything - anything - for His glory and our good.
Financial stress is never easy to deal with. I am so thankful for God's faithfulness, not only in providing for our physical needs, but also giving us His Word and providing for our spiritual needs as well. He used "More Than Just Making It" to encourage me beyond words, and I am confident that it will be a blessing to you as well.