How many of us can say that God has spoken to us in no uncertain terms? Yet, He probably has and you just didn’t know it. I refer to them as God-incidences, messages of reassurance that come when we most need them.
The events in the following story came during a time of great anxiety. It tells of a battle between faith and fear. It tells of the discomfort often felt during life changing events, and the uncertainty that always accompanies them. And it is especially a time when we are most apt to hear God’s message of reassurance to us – “Everything will be okay. I have everything under control”.
“I have been employed for many years as a library manager at New Jersey state colleges,” says Mark Thompson. With higher education funding in serious decline, it was difficult to maintain services with lower budgets. As the leader, the most pressure was on me. To the detriment of my health, I had to take on larger and larger burdens due to having to take up the slack for staff reductions. There was reason to worry that my job could also be eliminated. It became too much.
Then in August 2015, I was without a job. I applied for unemployment benefits, grateful that it would help me over the six months of job searching. Other than unemployment, my wife and I only had $1,000 per month of income. We prayed for God’s mercy, but instead the world crashed upon us. I fell down some concrete steps and was brought to the hospital. I had no insurance. Next, my stress-induced ulcer led to a life-threatening stomach infection – more medical bills. Plus, it interfered with the job search. I needed to surrender to God, and muster up the courage and faith to let go and let God take the steering wheel from me. No easy task. I like to take control.
Then after almost three months receiving benefits, my former employer fought to repeal them. After an ugly set of four hearings, they won. I would not receive any more benefits and I would have to immediately pay back what I had received. Was this really happening to me? I did not have enough money as it was to pay bills and then pay them back. Not only was this a great financial hardship, but also emotionally devastating, plunging me deep into despair. So, I asked friends to pray hard to help me to keep trusting in Him. Although I knew that the Bible said that God was in control, I couldn’t shake that “no way out” gut wrenching feeling of panic that I now succumbed to.
As a believer, I am often conflicted by the fear that I feel when confronted with circumstances that threaten my well-being, shamed, knowing that God has always provided for me in the past, and also knowing that He promised to continually meet my needs “according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). So when I am facing fears, I (we) must remember that we are human and it is normal for us to worry, but not unsurmountable when we exercise our faith in God through fervent prayer and praise. Do you want to know if prayer works? Then put prayer to the test. God wants us to ask Him for the impossible, for God is a God of miracles and He wants to answer our prayers.
A week after losing my final appeal on unemployment, I received news from the attorney that had settled my Uncle Morton’s estate that additional monies had been found in the State’s unclaimed property fund and that I would be the recipient of it. I was elated. The timing couldn’t have been orchestrated better, and the amount found was nearly the amount I owed. God knew my need and answered me with a check in the amount of $16,796.00. That would nearly cover my total bill of $16,987.96 that I owed the State. “Unbelievable! Thank you, Lord – you are faithful. You are merciful.”
Well, God did leave a balance owed of $211.96. I guess I am not totally off the hook yet for trusting in God. But the God-incident served to raise my God awareness of Him in my situation. As we mature in Christ, and with each new circumstance that comes our way, our faith is tested, and it grows with each answered prayer, especially when the odds are slim to none that there will be a positive outcome.
Copyright 2015 by Mark Thompson and Bill Hutzel
Related Link: Don’t Worry About It