Most of us don’t know what Christmas in America is like for the have-nots. For this post, I am defining have-nots as those who at best struggle to meet the bare minimum necessities of life and have no money left over for anything else like buying gifts or taking a vacation. Well, I once got a taste of what it’s like to be in that situation.
It was over twenty-five years ago. I was pastoring a small church I had started. Eventually, I left a well-paying engineer job to devote myself full-time to that ministry. The congregation was small so it could not fully support me financially. But I had saved a considerable amount of my own money to supplement my pay from the church as needed.
Suffice it to say that the church did not experience the growth I had anticipated. Eventually, my personal funds became depleted and the church was still not able to pay me more money. Throughout this experience, God showed Himself faithful to keep me from going under. But I was now a member of the have-nots as defined above. I could just pay the mortgage and pay the utility bills—sometimes late–and buy enough food to keep my family alive. That was it.
For more than a year, every day was a financial struggle.
Then came Christmas that year. I looked at things from every angle I could imagine. I could not see a way to buy even one gift for any of our five children or for my wife. That same Christmas, our congregation partnered with a predominantly white congregation to distribute gifts to inner city youths. That congregation gave me a few gifts that were left over, and that was Christmas for my youngest son.
The only reason we had meat for that Christmas dinner was because someone gave us a turkey. Though I know my inability to buy gifts for my family and to enjoy a special holiday meal had nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas, I felt so bad for my children. I wanted to shield them from relatives who might come around during Christmas and talk about what they all got for Christmas.
My experience was but a test I endured for a season. But for the have-nots, what I experienced that Christmas is not the exception but the rule.
Copyright © 2018 by Frank King. All rights reserved.
[A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses, Luke 12:15]