Broken for Blessing
God turns financial mayhem into life-changing miracles.
by Heather Roberts
“I’m telling you for your own good. I need you to take a deeper look. Something doesn’t smell right, and I’m always correct about these things. You’ll thank me later, buddy.” The real estate banker gave my husband, John, a sad smile.
John left the meeting and called me immediately. “Something is wrong. I just don’t know what yet.”
“It didn’t go well with the banker today? Is that what you’re talking about?”
“No, it’s a mess. I don’t know how bad it is. I’m headed to the office to see what we’re dealing with.”
As my husband investigated the spending and money-moving activities of other people in his company, things came to light. Unfortunately, the banker was correct. Not only did something not smell right, it downright stank.
Someone had massaged money and shifted the books so drastically that the plan to purchase, move into the new facility, and open the new branch died. Thank God the banker had alerted us before we made a horrible financial decision.
In a whirlwind of less than a week, we went from planning a multi-million-dollar venture to closing the company doors — and fast. Employees needed to be paid, lines of credit shut down, the warehouse cleaned out, and all items returned to customers.
I did what I could to help, but the burden was significant on my husband. He lost thirty-eight pounds in less than two weeks.
John and I look back on this horrible, trying time and smile. Despite the severity of our loss, we also had so many overabundant, unexpected blessings.
We had to get the house ready and sell the van immediately, and somehow we did it with three kids in tow. I sold the house without a realtor in two-and-a-half weeks. The van sold immediately at the dealership.
As he drove back from locking the building doors, John received multiple job offers. Ultimately, he took a job in another state, which left the packing and child-rearing to me until we could sell and relocate. During that time, I also worked as a therapist in an outpatient clinic three days a week.
People ask me, “How did you do it?” I guess I didn’t see an option; I only did what was in front of me — the next needed thing.
We experienced other blessings as well, like being confronted with biblical truth.
We had read, “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Proverbs 17:10). My husband had prayed to be the wise man mentioned in this verse. Neither one of us wanted him to be the fool.
But John didn’t follow the Lord’s wisdom. In fact, he never asked the Lord for direction in the business, and that led to what we were living through.
God of grace
When faced with sudden losses or pain, friends and family members saw them as punishments from the Lord. To be honest, it felt as though we were getting the one hundred blows that Proverbs speaks of.
However, in viewing this business failure as the natural consequence of our own decisions, I knew that even though we had made the mess, God would get us through it by His grace.
Another unexpected blessing from this terrible event came in our marriage. I had been sensing a widening divide between John and me daily, but I couldn’t understand why or how to stop it.
I believe every major, and even minor, event in our lives starts with prayer. Not knowing how to fix my marriage, I made sure my prayers became more desperate.
“Lord, if my husband or I am out of alignment, crack us back. By any means necessary.” Two short sentences, but they packed quite a punch.
I thank God that He heard my prayers. John immediately saw the error of his ways and humbled himself before God.
I was so proud of John’s submission to God during this time. It made all the difference in his life and in our marriage. Otherwise, our lives would have had a darker outcome.
We made it through the business crisis with fervent prayer — our own and those of others. Many friends helped as well. They took furniture to re-sale shops, and their children babysat for dirt cheap.
No overnight miracles, no money dropped from the sky, no waking up to learn it was just a big mistake. We made it through by God’s grace.
Wisdom and love
We also made it through with God’s fresh wisdom for the next step: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).
God gave us tender love as well, even though we didn’t deserve it. Now John heard from the Lord at a higher level because it wasn’t all about him; it was about what he needed to learn and God’s plan. John asked God how his heart needed to change, then he actually listened.
I watched my husband go from blatantly living for self to asking the Lord, “What am I learning today?” Every night, he came home with a nugget of knowledge — sometimes little things and other times life-changing mind shifts.
Though John’s life began to change, it happened only after he faced where he had gone off track. He had a strong fear of failure, which drove his decision-making instead of reliance on God.
John also possessed a hefty sense of entitlement and had surrounded himself with other people who had the same mindset. They believed if you work hard, you should play hard. I hadn’t been aware of his unnecessary purchases: Sirius radio, magazine subscriptions, monthly massages, and other frivolous things.
Refreshment and renewal
Only when John confessed these choices did I see our divergent priorities. We were completely out of alignment. John’s worldview put success as the top priority, while mine was centered on the children.
Neither of us was aligned with God. This merciful event with the business allowed our hearts to be humbled to receive a realigned marriage, united to Christ. We were no longer on different missions. Had this “failure” not occurred, I don’t know if any of these truths would have been revealed.
Now, years later, I thank God for that humbling time. He stood with us. It refreshed our souls and renewed our marriage. In answer to my prayer, God did, in fact, crack us back into alignment by using the natural consequences of our own ignorant and sinful behavior.
God’s faithfulness to heal our marriage humbled me, not just John. I, too, have learned to ask Him, “What am I learning today?”
And this time, I’m listening to what He has to say.
Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.