June 8, 2020

The Downward Spiral

My wife lost her job on February 29, before the coronavirus lockdown on March 24. Then I was furloughed with the prospect of losing a portion of my income.

The Losses Pile up

With little hope of my wife getting another job in the current environment, we were concerned about how we would cope. My tax accountant also informed me that I owed back taxes. Then the tenant in the house we owned informed us that her husband had lost his job and they couldn’t afford to pay rent.

In a short period of time we suffered astonishing financial loss. We studied the figures: things just didn’t add up. On paper, we couldn’t see how we were going to pay the bills and put food on the table.

In addition, I had recently damaged my back, and an MRI scan showed that I had a herniated disc. Discomfort in my lower back sent shooting pain down my legs. I struggled to stand for more than a few minutes; I could hardly walk; and I could not sit comfortably. The NHS physiotherapy clinic was closed, and I couldn’t afford private therapy (which was closed anyway because of the pandemic).

Unable to see a way through, we trusted God and knew He would work things out for us.

In faith we claimed this promise: “Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who . . . shut their eyes against contemplating evil—they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them” (Isa. 33:15, 16, NIV).* We recognized our own lack of righteousness and appealed to the righteousness of Christ.

We Could Still Serve

We couldn’t see how God would make a way through the storm that was descending upon us. But that wasn’t our problem. We had faith in our Almighty God. We gave our problems to Him. If we had to struggle through pain and financial difficulties and rely on food handouts, God would have a purpose in allowing us to do so.

I had been helping out at the church’s soup kitchen, but now it was closed because the building was closed. So the church transitioned into delivering food parcels to people’s homes. Because I was furloughed I couldn’t lead out in anything, but I could still volunteer. I was allowed to continue collecting donations of food from the local supermarket.

Because other charities were registered before us, the church was offered what the other charities didn’t want. But other charities were often unreliable and didn’t always collect the food offered to them. Because I always collected donations whenever they were offered, food donations from the supermarket skyrocketed.

A church member who lives near us offered to help me collect and distribute the food. One donation from the supermarket had more than 100 loaves of bread and 100 5-pound bags of potatoes. It was too bulky to fit into my car, so one of the supermarket employees put some trays in her car and brought them to our house.

I took the food donations to our house for pre-sorting before taking them to be boxed up.

On more than one occasion there was just too much for the food parcels we were delivering as a church group, and we had no refrigerators to keep that amount of food fresh. So I offered the excess food to other charities. This pleased the supermarket so much that they recognized the church as the preferred charity. We were no longer the tail, but the head (see Deut. 28:13).

The Tide Turns

Then I unexpectedly received a letter from the tax man. I didn’t owe money; instead, I was due a tax refund.

As my back pain was becoming unbearable, I went online and found a local chiropractor who offered online support—for free. He talked me through my back problem, identified a solution, and gave me some exercises to do. I did them, and—wonder of wonders—they helped. Later that week I woke up without any back pain, the first time in decades.

Only a few days before, we had been wondering how we would pay the bills and put food on the table. Now we had money in the bank; my back pain had eased; and rather than having no food coming into the house, we have enough food leaving our house to feed hundreds of people.

God is faithful. He assured us that our bread would be supplied and our water not fail. His mercies are new every morning. God’s not only good, He’s great!

Jeff Couzins is a pastor in the North England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright ã 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.