My dear friends, if you have been in treatment or are considering treatment, you are well aware that it is costly. Your medical bills could easily be tens of thousands of dollars each year. And on top of that, you may have found it necessary to stop working (insert anxious emoticon here).
As I continue with the blog, I want to share with you everything I’ve learned about budgeting, insurance and paying for medical treatment. I believe the start place in talking about finances isn’t a list of practical steps… It’s about developing a mindset about money that makes us feel secure, instead of fearful.
I still remember the first time I got a bill for $5,000 in the mail. It was from a trip to the ER that proved frustrating and fruitless. My insurance declined to pay any part of the $5,000. I also received two other sizable medical bills that day. AND I had just left my job after deciding that my body couldn’t keep up with it anymore. Guess how good I was feeling about our finances?
It knocked me over.
As I talked with my husband, Kevin, later that day, I was shocked (and irritated) that he was as cool as a cucumber after hearing the news. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of, “Jesus will take care of us.”
I wanted to be as peaceful as Kevin, but it wasn’t coming naturally. I started praying prayers like that man in Mark 9:24: “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” And I also prayed, “Jesus, I know you have provided for me in the past, and I know that you have promised to take care of me always. I need you to show up for me. I’m scared.”
Within a few days, I received a call from a friend asking if I could bake a cake for a church event. I love baking cakes and wanted to help, but the thought of spending $15-$20 on ingredients made me freeze. I paused for a while on the phone and asked if I could get back to them later. Fear gripped me. BUT I had a check in my heart. I knew who I wanted to be in that moment — I wanted to be someone who was generous in the face of feeling like I didn’t have enough.
I think that when we feel like we don’t have “enough” in life, especially when we feel like we’re losing more and more (getting splinters from scratching the bottom of the barrel)… Our natural reaction is to scramble, to hoard, to penny-pinch.
I’m ALL FOR good stewardship with money. I’m ALL FOR living within our means, but I do think we always have something to give.
I decided to put my time and money into a lovely cake and gave it to my friends. In this very simply act of giving out of my need—of stepping out in faith that God would give me “enough”—my world changed. I started experiencing the peace my husband already had. I kept praying the prayers that I had before, but I felt more peace and excited anticipation about the future.
Within a few weeks, our financial situation changed drastically. We received small financial gifts from friends who had no idea what was going on. I applied for financial assistance with my huge medical bill, and received a 90% discount! It dropped from $5,000 to $500. And Kevin was asked to apply for his dream job (yes, they approached him!), and he was hired.
My friends, we were determined to believe that God is who He says is. We were determined to believe that God would provide for us, and that when we had it in our hearts to give, that we could give and still have enough. And it happened! We have continued with this posture of heart, and we have seen miraculous provision. Undeniable favor. Our medical expenses keep climbing, but our faith and peace keep climbing too… And more and more favor follows.
We are definitely not swimming in money. We don’t live extravagantly… But we do have everything we need, which is a miracle. And we have an incredible amount of things we want. We love feeling the freedom to give generously, because we are being provided for generously.
Here are the things I want you to take away:
- Jesus has provision for you. One of my favorite Bible stories is in 2 Kings 1:4-7. A widow comes to Elisha (God’s prophet in that time), and says that she has so many debts that her creditors will soon take her sons and sell them as slaves. He asks her how he can help and what she has in her house. Her reply is that she only has a bit of oil. He tells her to borrow as many jars as she can from her neighbors, to shut the doors, and then begin pouring out the little oil that she has into her jars. As she goes home and follows this instruction, the oil that she has multiplies. It keeps running, and she can’t fill the jars up fast enough! Her boys keep running and collecting jars, and she keeps pouring until every one of them is full. She then sells the oil, pays her debts, and is able to live off of the rest. Dear friends, the Lord cares for you deeply. He wants to provide for you, and I love that this story shows God’s generosity in that there is leftover money for her. He starts by using what she has, and making her little multiply. And to boot, He supplies more than she needs. When we ask for help and follow the instructions / promptings we receive, we can look forward to His provision and favor.
- The Lord honors us when we give what we can. In Mark 12:41-44, we can read the story of the poor widow who gave two mites (equalling half a penny) as an offering to the Lord. Jesus saw this and told His disciples that she gave more than all of the rich people around her, because she gave out of her poverty, not out of her abundance. God sees our offerings, and He knows when we are giving in faith. The smallness of our gift doesn’t make it “less”… It actually makes it more!
- God can use our “little” in a big way. Friends, you never have to worry about your offering being too small to matter. God loves using small beginnings to accomplish great things. In John 6:1-14, we can read about this awesome kingdom principle in action. Jesus was sitting with his disciples when a crowd of 5,000 men, plus their families, came to hear Him teach and to be healed. Jesus wanted to feed them, and His disciples found a little boy who was willing to offer up his five loaves of bread and two fish to help towards the meal. Jesus took that little offering, blessed it, and miraculously distributed it to EVERYONE. Every person ate their fill of bread and fish, and when it was all over, the disciples went around and collected 12 baskets of scraps. Jesus loves to use our little offerings to satisfy great needs. Just because you can’t offer a lot, don’t stop looking for ways to give. It can be a huge gift!
- Being generous is a tool to fight fear and increase your peace. Money and fear tend to go together. If we don’t have enough money, we’re afraid. If we have money, we’re afraid to lose it. For me, being generous breaks the hold that fear has on my life. In fact, when I start to feel anxious about money, I look for someone whom I can bless with cash or a gift card. It’s like coming to a fork in the road, and your options are fear or faith. I try to choose faith at every opportunity. Generosity goes one step further. It is faith in action, because it burns the bridge to “Maybe-I-can-do-this-on-my-own Land“… Generosity says, “Now I definitely can’t do this without you, Jesus.” I find that God meets me in amazing ways in that place, and I experience peace as I refocus on God, my provider, rather than trying to provide for myself.
There is so much more I could say, but for now, I leave you with this: God loves you so much. He wants to care for you, provide for you, use you to bless others, and to give you peace. As you give Him room to show up for you, as you trust Him with your need, He will be with you.
Addendum: Having a generous spirit is more than being generous in finances. Don’t you worry, I’ll touch on different opportunities to be generous in the future! I start with finances because I believe it is an important part of generosity that is easy to dismiss out of fear. If we start with faith, peace, and generosity as our foundation before getting into the practical application of medical finances, we will be steady in difficult circumstances. Practical applications alone aren’t worth much. We need to have heart and vision behind it!