In the past, when an "emergency" arose, I would frantically check the balance in my checking account. If there wasn't enough there to cover it, I would whip out a credit card. Whew! It's a good thing I have credit cards... in case of an emergency, you know.
Truthfully, my husband and I did not have credit cards for about 12 years. Then we decided to get a small one. For emergencies, you know. Well, for many of us, one thing leads to another and before you know it, they seem to reproduce and each one has a higher credit limit than the other one.
We told ourselves it was fine because we were managing and we were until... I got cancer, had a ruptured brain aneurysm, had a stroke and ended up on disability. Oops! This wasn't part of the plan. Uh-oh.
A few weeks after I went on medical leave from my teaching job, my husband and I attended a small group on managing our finances. When we first talked about taking this class, we did not know I was about to lose my job. We were struggling though due to my illnesses and felt this would be a good thing to do.
I remember in the first class that we were told that we needed to focus on getting an emergency fund of $1,000.00.
Where on earth were we going to get that kind of money? We were living from paycheck to paycheck and that amount was about to be slashed within a few weeks. We would not even have enough money to pay all of our bills and buy food let alone scrape together $1,000.00 for an "emergency fund".
Sell something? We had really purged things a few years before when we'd moved. The only thing we had of any value were our cars and living out where we did with no public transportation, we really did need two vehicles.
We were told we could take on a second job. Hmm... I was on sick leave because I could not work. As for my husband, his job requires him to be available at other times beside his regularly scheduled hours. This meant he sometimes gets a lot of overtime and he would do free-lance jobs but as far as anything steady and regular besides his full time job? No. It couldn't be done. Sigh...
So, we prayed.
1. We told God we wanted to be good stewards and we asked Him to help us do so. This is important. Far too often we pray for God to provide for us but we don't bother to ask Him to help us be good stewards. We're like the child who runs up to their parent, asks for money, blows it on candy and then comes back to ask for more. Hm...
Why should God bless you if you are only going to keep falling into the same rut over and over again? We need to ask God to help us to be good stewards of what He gives us and then we need to listen to what He says to do.
2. We asked God to help us scrape together $1,000.00 which we could set aside for an emergency fund.
There are people who would say that having an emergency fund demonstrates a lack of trust in God. Is it? Or is it taking what God has given you and using it wisely? I believe the latter is true.
Less than a week after we prayed this prayer, we got a phone call from a friend. She had been borrowing some equipment my husband was not using any longer. She asked him if she could buy it. Well, since it was used, he really didn't quite know what to quote her but he thought it might be worth...
She interrupted him and said, "I know you won't charge me enough so I did some research on my own. According to my figures, the equipment is valued at $1,000.00. If that is agreeable to you, swing by my house and pick up your check."
My husband said he couldn't ask that much and quoted a lower figure but our friend was adamant. Now when were we going to pick up the check.
I remember my husband and I sitting in the car a bit later and staring at that check. This was our emergency fund. God had provided.
We have had to tap into it now and then but it always gets replenished and there are times we have even been able to increase it. The fund has never run dry. When we needed $1,000.00 worth of repairs done on my car, the money was there. When we couldn't pay a bill on time because we weren't going to get a check for a couple more days, we could borrow from the emergency fund and pay the bill on time.
Setting aside funds for an emergency does not demonstrate a lack of faith. It demonstrates using what God has given you wisely.
I will tell you though, what you do not want to do. You do not want to say, "I can't pay my tithe, give offerings or continue to do charitable giving because I am saving up for my emergency fund." That is demonstrating a lack of faith. We must never withhold from God in order to line our own pocket. Never. Instead, we must take it to God and ask Him to help us to be able to set aside money for emergencies and to be good stewards of what He has given us.