Writing about God’s provision is easy . . . when everything is good, when there is money in the bank, food in the pantry and fridge and a comfortable assurance that all needs will continue to be supplied well into the future.
But what about when your bank account balance is in the single digits, you’re running out of ways to convince your family that Spaghettios really do embrace all food groups in one handy can, and there’s no prospect of improvement any time soon? Can you still claim that God provides?
Sometimes believing in God’s ability and willingness to take care of us is stretched.
Although we’ve been face-to-face with this reality over the course of the past year, it’s not new to us. Clint and I have been married for thirty years, and during the majority of that time, we’ve struggled financially, partly because we chose to live as a one-income family so that I could be home with the kids, partly because of some decisions we made . . . the whys aren’t important here.
Yet we’ve never gone hungry or been without a roof over our heads. In point of fact, we’ve been tremendously blessed, and we’ve had experiences and opportunities that defy belief.
Still . . . there have been, and continue to be, hours and days and weeks of quiet desperation. There are times when we cannot see how things are going to work out: when there’s no paycheck forthcoming–or it’s so small, it’ll be gone before it’s had time to settle into the bank. Or when the bills are mounting, and that one check you were counting on to cover those bills doesn’t show or doesn’t appear on time.
It seems as though it would be efficient and easy if the equation worked the way we’d like. We have a need. We tell God about it. He comes through, preferably delivering a check to our bank account–a surprise refund, an unexpected bonus or something else like that. We’re grateful, and everyone’s happy. Right?
But does it ever happen that way for you? Because it doesn’t usually for me. Instead, much more often, it seems that things get worse. A payment I expected doesn’t show up or some catastrophic expense arises–can you say the car needs a new fuel pump? Or the air conditioning in the house is shot?
You see, when it comes to providing for us, God tends to see a bigger picture. There are a few constancies I’ve found in my life of trusting Him: in God’s economy, He doesn’t want to just supply our needs; He wants to grow us, to grow our faith. He wants to do more than just get us through our current crisis. So usually, we’ll end up coming out on the other side of the situation with a greater capacity for gratitude and a clearer vision of the path where God is leading.
I often find that it’s helpful to think of a parent’s relationship with her child when we consider how God sees us. When a baby is beginning to learn to walk, we don’t run to make sure the child has everything she needs at her fingertips. We might actually move a toy across the room, to encourage her to toddle over there on her own. It’s not cruelty; it’s love. So it is with God.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all sunshine and roses, and it’s often painful. But sometimes, knowing that this isn’t in vain or capricious helps to get us through. What does God want from us, ultimately? Our complete reliance. He knows that therein lies our truest happiness and peace. So He’s teaching us to do just that, training us to turn to Him first, to trust Him, to be content with Him.
Baby steps. That’s how it’s done. Thanks be to God for His patience with us as we learn to walk–with Him.