Book Review – “God’s Provision in Tough Times”

God’s Provision in Tough Times

What a sweet title, but what a harrowing read. It is an honest book for people walking one step at a time with knots in their stomachs. Like caregivers.

The subtitle tells all: 25 True Stories of God’s Provision During Unemployment and Financial Despair

Author La-Tan Roland Murphy lines up twenty five short testimonies, including some of her own. One after another, the authors share their worst experiences with every imaginable financial nightmare. Lost jobs, bad decisions, chased pipe dreams, family betrayals, misreads of God’s will, disabilities and more are the raw material of the book.

These stories are relentlessly authentic. Several contributors are transparent about their own contributions to the disasters they suffered. Others bare their emotional struggles. And there’s honesty about the challenges to their relationships and even to their faith,

As we sat around the table, the four of us formed a circle by holding hands, and Tim began the prayer. “Lord, we’re grateful for this Easter Sunday and our risen Lord. We thank You for the many years our family has spent in this beautiful house—the house You gave us. Please be with our family as we leave our home.”

Weeping interrupted Tim’s prayer. Justin pushed his dinner plate to the center of the table and laid his head upon his arms. His body shook with emotion.

“Stop, Tim. Just say amen.” My voice quivered.

Pushing her chair away from the table, Megan ran upstairs to her room.

“But I’m praying for us.”

“We can’t pray right now. We’re in too much pain.”

Lifting his head, Justin whispered, “I can’t eat.” He left the table and ran upstairs to his room.

The good news is that all of the authors found blessing in the midst of their ordeals.

In some, but by no means all of the situations, a near miraculous provision took place in the form of an out of the blue job offer or sudden arrival of unexpected money.

But in most of the testimonies, the decisive factor was a change of perspective,

Though my circumstances didn’t change overnight, God began to change me. He changed my perspective from loss to gain. He began to lift the veil that blocked my joy and allowed me to catch a glimpse of His heavenly perspective. He showed me how my husband’s absence from our home allowed him to spend time with his mother in the last year of her life. Additionally, our trying circumstances gave our oldest son an opportunity to develop leadership skills before going out into the world, as he took on many of my husband’s responsibilities. The Lord also established our marriage on a firmer foundation; we became much more of a team. Many weekends, when my husband came home, I had to go to Georgia to be with my ailing father. We could identify with each other’s pain on a deep and personal level and support one another with compassion.

“We” is a prominent word in the transformations that take place. Many of the testimonies show how crises compelled spouses to pull together, not only in effort, but in affection and prayer. Relationships are a key arena for victory in these stories.

Released just this year, God’s Provision in Tough Times is a timely offering in our challenging economy. It touches problems encountered by all kinds of people, and which are all too familiar among caregivers.

Simon says

I was at a small midweek church service and the time came for people to offer prayers for various needs.

A lady kneeling near me whispered “Joey.” In a microscopic dot of time, my mind said, “Oh that’s our son’s name but she must mean someone else.”

But she continued her whispered prayers, and I realized that she was praying for a list of special needs children and adults in our church. The Joey was ours, after all.

When Jesus was staggering under the weight of the cross, his execution squad

…compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. (Mark 15:21)

I’ve come to call people who take some of the weight of care giving off of my shoulders “my Simons of Cyrene.” They don’t remove the burden altogether – that’s not a realistic expectation. But they make it lighter for part of the way.

Over the years, some have helped with encouragement and comfort, others with practical stuff like watching Joey to give Melissa and me a break, and others have been generous with money or other resources that eased our burden.

The lady in church certainly eased it by her prayer. More than that, overhearing her whispers stays with me on the path. When the going gets heavy, it restores me to know that there’s a person lifting Joey’s needs – to which our hearts are nailed – up into the hands of God.

Will Color Always Divide Us?

It was a beautiful Labor Day here in Sioux Falls.

Of course that meant a day off from Joey’s day program, and he can get squirrely with nothing to do.

So Melissa and I decided to pack up Joey and our dog, Lily, and head to our town’s wonderful dog park. The canines get to be unleashed to romp and socialize in a fenced but spacious section of one of our riverside parks.

Joey wouldn’t go into the dog area. He spotted a playground with swings and went there. OK, initially; Melissa got a nice bench in the sun from which to watch him, and I took Lily into the dog park. We assumed that after some swing time, he would settle and we could all hang out together with the dogs (of which there were plenty on a beautiful holiday).

But Joey never settled down. He just stayed on the swings, chattering. Melissa had a nice visit with some little girls who were afraid to go on the swings while a full sized human with a goatee was there talking to himself.

Lily had fun in dog land, but we never got to enjoy it as a family.

Oh, yeah. The color issue.

We got home and Joey kept getting in our faces, saying, “Later we will get the white TV.”

IMG_20130902_195104_298This is the white TV. It used to sit in Joey’s room, hooked up to a VCR for his movies. He pushes buttons on TVs and other appliances. A lot. They eventually go bye bye.

It’s sitting in the garage atop a deceased microwave, both of which I should have hauled to the city appliance disposal center long ago. But it is one of those stupid chores I neglect because, frankly, I’m sick of chores and I like to ignore some.

Now, he has a perfectly good TV showing the movies in his room. It’s black. He doesn’t like the black TV. He wants the white TV. Even though we went out and found him the new TV on short notice, and did all the annoying button pushing to make it talk to the VCR, he wants the white TV. Because it is the white TV.

You can imagine my mood after having had the trip to the park altered by Joey’s “special” needs, then being nagged about the white TV for most of the rest of the holiday.

Melissa put it to him straight: “No. The white TV is broken.”

Which is true but with Joey it’s like another colorful discussion, The return of The Norwegian Blue: