We’re coming up on another new year–really? Again?
So, when you look ahead to the new year, do you look ahead with no real emotions, or do you have a mixture of anticipation, excitement, fear, or anxiety?
I’m not usually a very anxious person, but sometimes even I feel twinges of anxiety as I look ahead. What will 2016 bring? Will my God provide for my needs during this coming year? I thought a good way to combat that fear was to think about whether God provided for His people in the past.
How about Elijah? The prophet Elijah, who gave an unwanted message of upcoming drought to wicked King Ahab–the king who married the famous Jezebel–went into hiding by a stream. He needed food and water, so God used ravens (in my experience, not known for being really kind birds, by the way) to bring him bread and meat. When the stream went dry because of the aforementioned drought, God brought Elijah to a poor widow’s house to provide food and water for him. He didn’t just bring Elijah to any poor widow’s house, maybe one who had just a bit left over to help another in need. No, He brought Elijah to the house of someone who desperately needed provision herself–in fact, when Elijah met her, she was gathering sticks so she could make her last fire with which to cook her last meal and then wait to die of starvation. Maybe God thought, I’ll save two birds with one net (to twist a normally violent idiom). He did it by causing her oil and flour to never run out for as long as the drought continued. Yes, I think you could say He provided for needs in that story.
Most of us probably remember one of the most famous stories of provision in the Bible–the story of God providing escape, water, bread, and meat for the Israelites in the desert. God brought in so many birds for the Israelites to eat, the people couldn’t see the end of them–a full day’s journey of quails; they were wading three feet deep in quails. In fact, He said He would give them so many, the birds would be coming out of their noses, figuratively speaking, of course. Yes, He provided then, too, even though the ungrateful folk did not deserve it.
What about Joseph? He was thrown in a well by his jealous brothers, and although they almost murdered him, they decided instead to sell him as a slave to some men going to Egypt. Did God provide for his needs? Well, he didn’t have an easy time of it, but he was preserved, and eventually he became second in command in Egypt and because of this and the wisdom God gave him, he, his family (including his undeserving brothers), and all the people around were provided for during a major drought. Yes, God went above and beyond when it came to providing for Joseph.
In fact, that’s a pretty common theme in the Bible and in my own life. God not only provides, but goes above and beyond. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). He supplies all our needs because He can (He’s dripping with riches) and because He wants to–He loves us and finds value in us. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matt. 6:26).
Please don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying that because God so often gives more than we need that He always does. The widow wasn’t given anything more than what she, Elijah, and her son needed to survive–oil, flour, and water. He might flood us with provision, or it might be tight, but He will provide.
The same chapter that tells us God will supply all our needs also reminds us that Paul learned to be satisfied in all circumstances, both in wealthy and humble times. I want to be the same way, to trust God to provide for us when all is going well and we don’t have to be quite so tight about our budget, but also to trust Him when we have to tighten our belts a bit, as we’ve had to since this past move to Texas.
God is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord Who Will Provide. May we all remember Him by this name as we face a new, uncertain year.