When Giving Hurts

One of the most single, motivating factors for how our family gives out of need is the example of other believer’s that live simply and give generously. We still have a long way to go in cultivating an even deeper generosity but we are so thankful to the Lord for the grace He’s extended to us and for the grace He’s enabled us to extend to other’s  in realizing that all of God’s people are being redeemed for Himself.  We have been the recipients of God’s abundant provision even in the midst of people who have failed us along the way.

Popular book and movie series entitled “Christy”, is based on a real life women in real circumstances, married to a minister who spent 40 year serving congregations in small communities and living frugally. Catherine Marshal, Christy’s daughter tells the story of her mother’s amazing ability to use her meager means generously.

Though we did without many things, Mother always provided us with a feeling of well-being. One way she did this was the unique manner in which she contrived to give to others. Out of our meager pantry she would send a sick neighbor a supper tray of something delicious she hand-prepared – velvety-smooth, boiled custard; feather-light homemade rolls – served up on our best china and always with a dainty bouquet from the garden.

One day, when my children were young, I walked to a neighbor’s house to call them home for dinner. Entering their kitchen, I asked, ‘What’s for dinner?’ To my amazement, it was a simple pot of shredded carrots seasoned with a bit of onion and butter. That was dinner for their family that night – only those carrots. It was the end of the week, and a bag of carrots was all that remained in the refrigerator. I was shocked that Jan’s family would be eating only shredded carrots for dinner, but her attitude was even more surprising- and instructive. I had always looked up to Jan, who was five years older than I, and she taught me something important that day. Jan chose to be thankful, with no hint of self-pity or even a suggestion that shredded carrots for dinner wasn’t as worthy as a full-course meal.

The remedy for self-pity, according to Catherine Marshall’s mother, was giving.

Only unconsciously were we aware of it, but mother was providing us constantly with an object lesson in giving. The message: no matter how little you have, you can always give some of it away. And when you can do that, you can’t feel sorry for yourself, and you can scarcely consider yourself poor.

Author Barbara Hughes remarks, “We women of the twenty-first century have so much! It’s so easy for us to fall into the trap that say’s: “I will give when I get ahead.” Or to constantly compare our own means with those who have more than we do. Rather, let’s agree to put on an opposite mind-set, always comparing ourselves to those who have far less than we do. The truth is, as Catherine Marshall’s mother taught her, no matter how meager your means, there is always something you can give to someone in need.”

Giving hurts. As our family learns to go deep(letting go materially) and long( diving in relationally), we find the sting to be more like a wound – but a wound that is always healed by the balm of Christ.

And then we realize we aren’t so “poor” after  all…