Impossible Math: Of God and Money

By Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Math has never been my strong suit. Give me commas, grammar, and vocabulary before you ask me to find the value of X. Numbers are set and unchangeable in my mind. There is no way to multiply digits without having the correct figures first. Two plus two may always be four, but to have two twos is a thing of beauty too.

When it comes to money, we're talking numbers again, and I have a very hard time reconciling that the amounts in my bank account could increase or decrease without some outside effort on my part—whether for good or ill. Yet, there have been at least three distinct times in my life when I have witnessed impossible math. Three times when God proved that numbers can indeed be changed and flexed in ways I never knew possible. When our finances seemed to be in turbulent, dire straits, God opened up an unexpected canyon around the next bend.

We had just acquired a new mortgage and my husband had been plunged into a state of unemployment when God first flipped our numbers around. Due dates were fast approaching, and we were becoming desperate, seeing that what tiny stores we had in our accounts would prove insufficient to pay our debts and cover other essentials, like food for example.

In order to cover our minimal bills, we rented a spot at the flea market and loaded as many valuable belongings as possible into our car. Anything that we thought could turn us another dollar went out on the table and onto a blanket spread on the ground. The TV, the game consoles and discs, DVDs, CDs, collectibles. After all, possessions are just so much stuff, right? We were in survival mode now.

By the end of the weekend, we had earned roughly half of what we needed to cover our bills even though we had sold nearly everything. Thankful for what little was provided, yet discouraged that we still had not made what was needed, we packed it all up and went home.

The next day, I went in to work and found an envelope in my mailbox. Inside was an anonymous cashier's check for exactly the amount we had raised at the flea market—yes, exactly—plus a hefty gift card to a grocery store. I stared at the number on the check and could hardly believe what I was seeing. Through the generosity of His people, God had matched what we had sacrificed. We were able to make our bills that month, and for the next few months of unemployment, somehow God continued to increase the numbers on our bank balance to just what we needed. Number Miracle 1.

Several years later, we had two stable jobs but no health insurance to speak of. When our second child arrived with a somewhat complicated delivery process, we were left with hospital bills that stretched our already tight budget beyond its practical means. We cut out everything we could think of and reduced expenses in every tiny corner. We were making it, but just barely.

One January day, a man knocked on our door. We didn't recognize him, so no one answered. Yet he was insistent and kept knocking. Finally my husband went to greet him. The man handed him an envelope with a smile and said it was from "your friends". Then he turned and walked away. Inside the envelope, we found twenty $100 bills.

We had only small inklings about where this money came from, but ultimately, we recognized that this was a gift from God. We used the funds to pay off a large debt that had been eating into our income, as well finish off the last of the medical bills that had caused so much tension. Number Miracle 2.

Last month, a few unforeseen but significant monetary gouges left us in a very difficult place as far as other financial obligations go. We had two weeks before payday and an absolute zero balance in every bank account available. I stopped driving in to work to save on gas, for the last $20 had been used to get my husband to his teaching job. I dug deep into the freezer for meals because we were forced to skip a grocery shopping trip.

We knew we were going in the hole. No way would we make it without getting drowned in overdraft fees when all our previously-mailed checks bounced. There was nothing that could stop this fiscal calamity—nothing short of a miracle.

Riding in the folds of an envelope and a simple letter, a gift arrived from a faraway friend. He'd sent a check as "small token" of thanks for all my help to him over the years. At first, I read the number as one-hundred. But then I blinked and realized there was actually one more zero. This amount would more than cover our immediate, outstanding debts, giving us a buffer for the following month. My friend had no idea what our current situation was, but the timing of his gift was impeccable. Number Miracle 3.

Why, I ask myself, do I still blink in astonishment when God twists and reshapes numbers before my very eyes? How does He make it happen? How can He transform a zero into a four-digit number so quickly?

I have no clue.

But maybe I am not meant to fully understand the hows of God's impossible math techniques. Maybe it is enough to know the whys. Our Father loves us each individually. He knows and anticipates our needs. And not even the resolution of numbers can stand in the way of the Great Provider and the sons and daughters He calls His own. I'll likely have to wait until eternity to ask those "how" questions, but for now, knowing the why is explanation enough for me.

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Published 6-14-13