We have been back in the US now for almost 2.5 years, during which time we have been on Medicaid, WIC (off and on), and EBT (foodstamps). This month will be our last on food stamps, and we found out about a month ago that Andrew and I are no longer eligible for Medicaid (and haven't been since the end of last year). Initially, the hard blow of that news produced anger within me. More than anything I just wish I would have known. I wouldn't have gone to the dentist or the doctor over the past four months. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is an answer to prayer. Of course, it's not how I wanted the answer of prayer to come, but I cannot fault the process when the answer is indeed arriving. I've been crying out to God over the past few months for us to get off of government help, and had no idea that he had already partially answered that prayer. Sure, I wish I would have received the letter our local government said it sent me. Sure, I would have liked Andrew's job to be permanent and have benefits before we got off it. Sure I would have liked to sell a million copies of my book first. Sure [insert excuse]. Sure [insert my plan]. Sure [insert an easier path]. Even though I can't see financial provision in front of me, I keep praying for it, and I keep the faith that these medical and dental bills will get paid. Because my God answers prayers.
The past two years have been really hard on us economically. Maybe partially because we believed at least a piece of the lie that America is the "golden land of opportunity" and our return to our home country would result in good-paying jobs that were easy to get because we speak two languages. Partially because we were tempted (and maybe went beyond temptation) to think God's delayed answer meant something it didn't. As Andrew Murray says in Teach Me to Pray:
"The great danger in this school of delayed answers is the temptation to think that it may not be God's will after all to give us what we ask. If our prayer is according to God's Word and after the leading of the Spirit, let us not give way to these fears. ....Before the answer can fully come there may be things that have to be put right—in those around us, in humankind as a whole, or in God's government—but the faith that has according to the Word believe that it has received can allow God to take His time."
The bigger picture in all of this is multifaceted. First off, the economic state of North Carolina is eye-opening to our personal situation. Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities (In 2015, depending on what news source you look at it's between 2nd and 6th fastest growing city in the nation). So a little economics 101 will tell us that applying to a job in this area involves being one of hundreds of applicants. And then there's the reality of understanding poverty in the U.S. What used to make me so incredibly uncomfortable: the waiting room of any welfare program, I'm now learning to be more comfortable in. I'm understanding issues many of my peers do not understand at a new level that one day I will use for His glory. When my circle of friends start talking negatively about social welfare, I am learning to speak up and say, "Hey, not everyone is taking advantage of the system!" For some people, crisis is real. And when it hits you—you get angry, frustrated at God, at life, at everyone around you, and eventually/potentially that anger turns into thanksgiving as you realize so many people around the world who are living below the poverty line for their context do not eat nearly as well as we do. My gosh, He has laid out a feast before me, and I complain about how the feast arrived and how I didn't contribute to buying the ingredients for it, and how I hate being a moocher. Newsflash: we're all moochers if we accept the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes God provides in ways I don't like. I have to get over myself and shut up and remind myself of the gospel and how the gospel is in all of these details. I did nothing to accomplish the food I have gained on my table. Yet I have a feast. Either I complain about how it came and how I wish I could do more, or I sit and thank the God who gives and who takes away.
So thank you for paying your taxes so I don't have to buy my groceries on a credit card. And thank you US government for these programs that benefit many even if some do take advantage of them.