In a discussion about NFP, a couple in our marriage prep course told us this:
“There’s also the fear of having a child before being ready. And no, God is not going to give me millions of dollars because it will help me prepare for the child. So don’t tell me that god will provide. He provided me with intellect, and abilities to survive and make something of myself. With my intellect, I will be using birth control.”
Well, if we all had to be “ready” to have a baby, not many of us would have children at all!
We definitely wouldn’t have had 4 kids in six years, but now we can’t imagine life any other way! In God’s providence, he knew we could handle it even when we didn’t. And it’s our free will that allows us to decide to follow Church teaching on NFP or blatantly disregard it in favor of birth control.
What I hear in her statement is a fear of trusting in God. It’s the original fear that led to original sin. The one tree God says not to take the fruit from and Eve takes it anyway, because she is afraid God is holding out on her. She doesn’t believe that in all the lushness of the garden and in her perfect partner, Adam, that God has given her everything she needs. I struggle with the same thing in my life. But here’s where the intellect really does come in to play: to choose to trust God.
Because God does provide! Sure, he’s not going to give most of us a million dollars, but he doesn’t have to. He knows what is best for us, he often uses ordinary means, and even though he provides for us, it doesn’t mean it will be easy.
He knows what’s best. God is a loving father, not an ATM or a Santa Claus. We don’t get what we want when we want – just like I don’t give my kids jelly beans for breakfast because they ask. I have something better in mind, just like God has our best interest in mind. That usually doesn’t mean a million dollars, though. There is sanctity in the work we do to earn money, there is virtue to be learned in budgeting, saving, and spending, and perhaps we need to learn that we don’t need a lot to be happy.
God often uses ordinary means. He’s not going to magically give you a stack of cash on your doorstep. He works through others generosity, and in every day situations. I will give you an example from this month:
During Lent our parish organizes food boxes for the poor and asks everyone to take a box home to fill up. Our family prays for the poor to be fed in our nightly prayers, so I felt compelled to take one and put our prayers into action. I brought my son to the grocery store to have him help me fill it up as a way to learn generosity.
Something you should know, though, is that I am overly obsessed with grocery lists, meal planning, and shopping the sales. Since I stay at home with the kids, I see my financial contribution as sticking to the budget. So, the whole time we are buying groceries to fill this food box, I am feeling sick inside as I watch our own grocery budget shrink. I was feeling very anxious and had to keep telling myself that this is good and generous and God will provide. I had no idea how it would work out, but I felt God was asking us to buy groceries to help another family. So we handed in our box of food and I was out a week’s worth of grocery money.
Then something happened. A chicken breast and some pasta somehow lasted for more than 1 meal for our family of 5. In fact, several of our meals lasted longer than they usually do. My online shopping with curbside pickup randomly got me $10 off my order and another coupon for $10 off my next order. They were out of the cereal I ordered so they gave me the family size for the same price. They doubled my diaper coupons. Then they gave me 3 more coupons for free Annie’s organic snacks for the kids. At another grocery store, I got a coupon for a free 32oz. bag of shredded cheese – exactly what I needed to make scalloped potatoes for our 20 family members on Easter. I’ve never had so many free coupons in my life!
In the end, the budget is working out due to the sales and the coupons, and eating from our surplus in the pantry. It wasn’t a miracle, but with each sale purchase and coupon I could see God providing. He provided for another family who was likely praying for food, and he provided for us by making our food last.
I can look at countless examples in my life when I struggled to trust in God but he provided, even though it wasn’t easy. When I moved across the country for a job and subsequently met my husband. When he started his own business and our first child was born. When I’ve needed to find part time work a few different times. When we were pregnant with #3 and we needed to move out of our townhouse and find a house with a yard and a shop for my husband to work out of. Well, we found a four-bedroom with a huge shop in the back, complete with some of my wants, like an attached garage and air conditioning. The catch is that it needed a ton of work. But God provided: not with a comfortable mansion, but with something we could fix up ourselves since my husband is a contractor.
So little by little, I am learning to trust more in God’s provision. I am realizing that I can come to him as a Father who has my best interest in mind and as he provides, he is teaching me lessons along the way.
“If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:30