In July 2017, we celebrated my youngest son’s birthday. Our little family had a grand old time with a big pizza and salad lunch, matching camouflage plates, napkins and blowers, and birthday cake and candles. It was perfect. Only, it wasn’t his birthday. His birthday was two weeks prior. We didn’t plan it this way. With our lean summer budget, there wasn’t enough that year to have a birthday party for him. Everything we enjoyed that day came from that morning’s trip to the local food pantry. Our family was in a lean season after we both lost our jobs in late 2016. We closed our tiny kitchen that was in the back of a pub and got new lower-paying jobs in 2017. As a result, our household income was a lot leaner than previously.
We worked hard to cobble together no small amount of second, third, and fourth jobs to try to keep income flowing, and none of them had proven successful enough to meet our monthly shortfalls. I remember asking God repeatedly what we were doing wrong and pleading for guidance for where He wanted me to be. Each time, His answer was the same: “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.”
I wish that I could have just received His word and rested in His promises. It’s often that way when God asks us to cast our cares on Him, and right after we do, we turn around and pick the burdens back up. We fret. We worry. We pray. We release. But then, we rinse, wash, repeat. I’m willing to bet this cycle is the very same that kept the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But instead of punishing them for their unfaithfulness, God, in His infinite grace, faithfully provided them with daily (translation: enough) bread in the morning and meat at night for their entire families. However, God’s provision had guidelines. He asked the following of them:
- Gather enough (an omer) for your family. Not too much. Not too little.
- Don’t try to keep it until the next day.
- Gather enough for the Sabbath on the day before. Don’t gather on the Sabbath.
How do you think they did? If you guessed not so well, you are correct. While the Israelites did a good job of gathering only enough for their families, some disobedient souls tried to hoard their manna and meat overnight and found themselves contending with rot and maggots. Some other greedy souls tried to go gathering on the Sabbath. There was nothing there to gather. A commentary I recently read said, “They were so consumed with meeting the daily needs that when Yahweh provided both the needs and a time for rest, they could not rest. Their effort was counterproductive, fruitless, and restless.”
Do we trust God enough to rely on His provision? Do we trust Him enough to rest? During my fevered prayers during our lean times, God would often send this gentle reminder:
“There will never not be enough.”
Does God use double negatives to deliver object lessons? I don’t know, but these are the words I know I heard. Through countless examples of God’s extravagant provision both great and small, the Lord continues to remind me even now:
“There will never not be enough.”
What is so hard about understanding and accepting that the God of the universe is making daily provision for us all, even when we are unfaithful? Matthew 6:25-33 offers a beautiful passage about this:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
This passage tells us in many different ways that we can rely on an amazing God for our future. It’s not an excuse to be poor stewards of what God has given us, but it does challenge us to rely, not on ourselves and our abilities, but on Him—even when faced with challenging circumstances, job loss, uncertainty, disappointments, and failure.
As our country emerges from a most unique time, we can still trust God because through Him, there is always enough to meet our daily needs. There may not always be enough to save for tomorrow, but there is wonderful, and even sometimes seemingly frivolous provision for today with the lens of a grateful heart.
I am willing to bet that many of us have been deeply humbled as our country has navigated unprecedented times over the last four months. If we allow it, hard seasons can build grace, peace, and wisdom in us in ways we never thought possible. We may not be satisfied as we go through them, but we can learn to be content in the process.
Reading: Exodus 16; Philippians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Prayer: Dear Lord, I trust you with every single detail of our lives. Lord, where there is lack, cause us to increase. Where there is dissatisfaction, cause us to be content. Where there is greed, cause us to be grateful. Where there is fear, increase our faith. Father, if it is your will, I ask you to bring us out of this lean season and into a place of harvest and abundance. If not, continue to grace us with your provision to meet every need, along with wisdom and peace to get through this season. In Your name we pray, Amen.