A Christmas Miracle
by Luisa Rodriguez
Does God only answer prayers when you faithfully follow His commands? I learned the answer to this question during a difficult season in my marriage and my faith. I learned that we have a God that will respond in unexpected and surprising ways, even when we least deserve it.
It was one of the lowest moments of my adult life. My husband and I were hobbling out of a painful time in our marriage. If I had not been a Christian, I would have filed for divorce and cut my losses. But as easily as I could have walked away from a ten-year marriage, I could not as easily walk away from God. I had sinned, mocked his commandments with my actions, but the idea of leaving my marriage felt as if I would be slamming the final door on God. That I could not do. So, I chose to stay and little by little my husband and I chiseled away at the wall that had formed between us.
Staying was one of the few things I did right at that time. I was haunted by a long trail of mistakes that had almost led to the dissolution of our marriage. I was emotionally battered and bruised, and I was left licking my wounds. The pain was compounded by seeing and living through the consequences of my mistakes. Every time I looked at our checkbook, I was reminded about how easily I had spiraled out of control.
During the worst of our turmoil, I used shopping to self-medicate. Earlier in our marriage my husband would tease me, calling me the “money Nazi.” I had always been good with finances, managed our investments, and kept us on budget. I was not too proud to shop at second-hand stores or target only the clearance sections. We were neither rich nor poor, but being frugal in some areas allowed us to splurge in others and still contribute towards our retirement and our savings. But when my marriage was falling apart, I shopped to mask the guilt, loneliness, and rejection that had become the prevailing emotions of that time period.
How much did I spend exactly? Well enough to blow through our emergency savings. If I saw something I liked, I bought one, or two, or three. If I wanted to eat at an expensive restaurant, I did. I stopped thinking about the budget and walked right past the clearance section to whatever caught my eye. To this day, I cannot fully account for all the money that I spent.
Adding insult to injury, I was no longer contributing income to our household. For reasons that go beyond the scope of this little essay, my husband and I had decided that it was best for me to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom and let my real estate business go. In hindsight, it was the right call for the sake of our relationship (and I don’t regret that one bit), but it added strain to an already difficult financial situation.
With Christmas looming over the horizon, I was dreading telling my 6-year-old just how miserable it was going to be for her. We had never been super-extravagant on Christmas morning, but we had always managed to get her a few nice gifts. That year it would have been a stretch if we could give her one.
I had for years prayed bold prayers and saw God do amazing things. But at that time, I felt embarrassed about approaching His throne of grace. I remember wanting more than anything to be able to give my little girl a decent Christmas but feeling that I didn’t deserve to even ask that from God. I had been solely responsible for ruining our finances, how could I now ask God to make it better?
Thankfully God doesn’t respond the way that people do. Thankfully God is full of mercy and grace.
A few weeks before Christmas I received a FedEx envelope. While opening it, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if this was a check.” In all honesty, I really did not expect that it would be.
There were two pieces of paper inside. The cover was a letter explaining that our financial institution had done an audit of the purchase of our home. There had been an error in the closing costs, and they wanted to refund us our overpayment. I was elated and I imagined it would be about two or three hundred dollars. I knew that at least now, we would be able to get one nice gift for our baby for Christmas, but as I pulled out the second piece of paper, I fell to the floor.
That second piece was a check for over $7000. I was overwhelmed at God’s goodness and kindness towards us. I balled uncontrollably on the black tarmac of my driveway. Not only would our daughter have a nice Christmas, but that check would put us well on our way to replenishing our emergency savings and get us back on track.
When the Bible says that God is rich in mercy, it is true. It was not His only act of grace during that time period. There were many more and other prayers answered, despite our rebellion. Yes, by that time I had repented of my mistakes, but He could have easily let me live through the consequences of my actions. But He did not. Instead he showed me that He would even answer a prayer that I could not bring myself to utter. That is the God we serve and the God that deserves all of our worship.
About the Author
Luisa Rodriguez is a writer and artist who lives in St Charles, IL. Her professional background is in National Security and International Studies. However, recently, Luisa writes mostly about issues that pertain to spiritual growth. Her daughters are one of her biggest inspirations. Much of her writing centers on female themes and lessons learned from parenting daughters.
However, Luisa’s military studies give her a unique perspective on warfare / military themes in the Bible and she weaves that into her articles. Because of this, she appeals to male readers as well.
Because of her artistic background, she often illustrates her own graphics for her written work and website. You can read and see more of Luisa’s work on her website, Fruitfully Living. Follow her on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.
You can read Luisa’s “Sunday Inspiration” column on the first 1st Sunday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.