Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve watched as our country has fallen into turmoil because of the COVID-19 outbreak. I’ve seen many families struggle financially because the head of household has been out of work and forced to stay home. I’ve seen some lose their employment altogether while others have had their hours cut. On the other hand, I’ve seen families where the head of household is able to work, but with fears of bringing the virus home to their family. I am extremely grateful to be one of the lucky ones whose husband still has a job to go to each day. I can remember a time when I struggled financially to make ends meet and my heart aches for those who have to go through such a difficult trial, especially during a pandemic.
When I first married my now ex-husband, we struggled to make ends meet. He worked graveyards and wanted to be the sole provider for our household. While I appreciated his effort and the work that he put in, I knew that we were struggling to pay the bills. After bills and rent were paid, we had approximately $40 a paycheck, twice a month for groceries. And although this was twenty years ago, an $80 grocery budget wasn’t much and definitely didn’t leave room for any extras. At the time, we were working to go through the temple, which meant that we needed to pay 10% of our income in tithing to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Paying our tithing was definitely a time of trial for us. On top of it, we wanted to start a family but knew that our finances didn’t allow room for one. Our health insurance wasn’t the greatest and we didn’t qualify for government assistance. The money that we paid in tithing, we could have easily used to provide for a baby. But we still paid our tithing, placing our complete trust in God that things would work out and prayers would be answered if we ever were blessed with a child despite months of trying to become pregnant. At church and in our temple classes, we had been taught that when we pay a full tithe, we’ll be abundantly blessed. Malachi 3:10 reads:
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
We held onto this hope that if we simply paid our tithing, everything would fall into place and blessings would be poured out from heaven. At first we didn’t see the blessings, nor did we realize just how abundantly we would be blessed. Shortly after being sealed together in the temple, I felt the need to get a job, but I was limited on where I could work because we only had one somewhat reliable car. And living in a small town, my options were even more limited, especially considering that I might have to walk to work. Since I had limited choices, I decided to walk up to the local grocery store and apply for a job. About a week later, I was hired as a cashier.
A couple of weeks after working as a cashier, I received a knock on our apartment door. To my surprise, when I answered the door there was a man from the electric company standing on my doorstep. He was there to repair my electric meter. He had noticed that it had quit working and needed some parts replaced. The entire year that we had lived in the apartment, we had never paid over $15 a month for electricity, oftentimes paying as little as $5. Ironically, as soon as I had received my first paycheck, that’s when the power company realized that there was a problem and that the meter needed to be repaired. And because the electric company had no way to accurately measure just how much electricity we had actually used, they wrote it off as a loss to the company even though we offered to pay any difference in the billing. The broken meter was a blessing before I had a job. Had the meter not been broken or worn out, our $80 a month grocery budget would have gone to pay our electric bill instead of for food and other necessities.
The blessings didn’t stop there. We continued to pay our tithing. About a month after finding employment at the grocery store, we were offered a job as apartment managers for the apartment building that we lived in. We had never applied for the job or even inquired about it. It was just simply offered to us by the couple who owned the apartment building. This new job was also something that could easily be done while maintaining employment at the local grocery store and while my ex-husband worked graveyards. In addition to becoming the apartment managers, we were able to move into a larger apartment in the building and our rent was cut in half.
A couple of weeks after finding employment at the grocery store and about two weeks after taking the management position, I found out that I was pregnant after nearly a year of trying to have a baby. I had been pregnant the year before, but had lost the baby. Even though this was my second pregnancy, it would be the first baby that I’d get to bring home from the hospital — and we had very little for a baby. All of the money that I earned at the grocery store went to our unborn child. I bought all of the necessities that a baby needs while still paying my tithing. I had over a two year supply of diapers in various sizes stored away in the closet of our nursery. The diapers would not only last through our first child, but some packages carried over when our second child was born. I knew that once my baby was born, I wouldn’t be returning to work at the grocery store and that I needed to buy the essentials with my paycheck while I was able to work.
Even after we had everything that we needed and even after the birth of our daughter, we were still abundantly blessed. When it came time to pay the final portion of the doctor and hospital bills that the insurance didn’t cover, we had unexpectedly received some money that we were able to use to pay the bills. The money was enough to cover either the whole doctor bill and a portion of the hospital bill, or all of the hospital and none of the doctor’s bill. We debated whether or not we should pay tithing out of the money that we had received as it would cut the money back even further and make it harder to pay my medical bills and we debated which bill to pay first. Ultimately we decided that the first thing that needed to come out of the money was tithing. So we held off on paying the medical bills until the following Monday, after we had paid tithing on Sunday.
When Monday came around, I thought I would go to the doctor’s office and pay that bill first, then pay the remainder of the money to the hospital and set up a payment plan for whatever else was owed. That was my plan — only it didn’t work out that way. When I arrived at the doctor’s office, their office was closed. It wasn’t a holiday and there wasn’t a note on the door… They were just for some reason closed. So I headed over to the hospital to see what I could do there. After talking to a lady in billing, she told me that they had a discount program where if I paid my bill in full that day, I’d qualify for a discount and get a percentage taken off of my bill. So that’s exactly what I did, and the percentage that was taken off was just what I needed to pay my doctor.
Suppose for a moment that we hadn’t paid our tithing. I would have gone to the doctor’s office the week before instead of waiting until Monday, the office most likely would have been open. I would have paid the doctor, then I would have gone to pay the hospital bill only not to have had enough to pay in full, and I would have had to set up a payment plan. These kinds of blessings aren’t things that just ironically happen, nor are they merely coincidences. Instead, they’re blessings poured out in abundance from our Father in Heaven.
One thing that I have learned over the years of paying tithing is that regardless of how much or little money I have, when I pay my tithing, I am abundantly blessed beyond measure and I never go without. Regardless of how difficult things are financially, my needs are always met and my family is always taken care of. The funny thing about money is that regardless of if you have it or not, it’s always a trial. When we’re trying our hardest to make ends meet, our Heavenly Father will make up the difference where we fall short. By paying our tithing, we show our obedience and gratitude toward God and our love for the Lord. Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said:
“Tithing is a token of gratitude, obedience, and thanksgiving — a token of our willingness and dedication. Paying tithing, willingly, develops an honest and pure heart. Paying tithing increases our love for the Lord.”
Until I had actually paid my tithing and had to place my complete trust in God during my most difficult times financially, I didn’t understand the purpose of tithing, nor had I seen the blessings that are poured down from the Lord simply by paying a full tithe. I came to realize that any money that I make already belongs to the Lord. By giving Him 10%, I’m not paying Him anything, but rather discharging a debt that I owe to the Lord. Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave this instruction:
“Paying tithing is not a token gift we are somehow charitably bestowing upon a God. Paying tithing is discharging a debt.”
I testify that regardless of how stressful our financial situation may be or how much or how little money we may have, when we pay a full tithe, we aren’t only discharging a debt that we owe to the Lord for His sacrifice, but are receiving an abundance of blessings that stretch far beyond the 10% that we paid in tithing. If there’s one thing that can improve our situation and increase our faith in God during these troubling times, it’s simply paying a full tithe. I assure you from my own personal experience, when we pay our tithing that that little 10% will be unnoticed and insignificant compared to the abundance of blessings that we’ll receive beyond measure.
Marie Yvonne is a motivational and devotional speaker for teens and young adults. In her devotionals, she shares her personal testimony and journey of learning to accept herself as God created her. Her journey can also be found on social media and her personal blog and website, TheConfidenceToShine.com.