Sometimes I am asked ‘why blog?’ It’s a good question but I guess my answer comes on two levels. First and foremost I find it really helpful to write as a way of processing, capturing and expressing all that I am thinking about and experiencing. Secondly there is also a sense that it is good to share with others from what God is doing in me. I don’t know exactly what draws you in to read this blog but I am glad that you are here. I trust that you will find this blog in some way helpful and I hope that you will find it honest, real, thought-provoking and Biblical. This week I’ve been thinking about our housing situation and that has led me to consider the character of God and in particular the fact that it is in His nature to provide for us. You are very welcome to listen in to my thoughts as I remind myself of this truth!
God will provide for our needs…
One of the names that Scripture uses for God is Jehovah-Jireh which means ‘the LORD who Provides’. The name is literally ‘The Lord Who Sees’, or ‘The Lord Who Will See To It’ and is a huge reminder that God sees our needs and will see to it that they are met. God is able to meet all of our needs in just the right time as He did for Abraham in Genesis 22. In that chapter God asks Abraham to take his son (whom he loved) and sacrifice him as a burn’t offering on Mt Moriah. Abraham set out on the 3 day journey with Isaac, two servants and all of the wood needed for the offering. When the place was in sight Abraham went on ahead with Isaac and the wood leaving the servants behind. Isaac could see the fire and the wood but asked his father about the whereabouts of the lamb for the offering. Abraham responded “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (v8). When they arrived Abraham built the altar and laid Isaac on top of it. Then he reached out his knife to slay his son when the angel of the LORD called, Abraham, Abraham and then told him not to lay a hand on the boy. Then Abraham saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. Abraham sacrificed it as an offering in place of his son. Then we read “Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided'” (v14). These verses reveal this name for God, Jehovah-Jireh. For Abraham, God provided what he needed, that is the ram caught in the thicket which was then offered in Isaac’s place. For us God provides whatever it is that we need because it is in His nature to do so. The name Jehovah-Jireh assures us that our Heavenly Father is able to provide for all of our needs. Notice the important distinction here between what ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. Nowhere does God promise give us all that we ‘want’ but He does promise to provide all that we ‘need’.
God knows how to give good gifts…
Thinking about God’s provision then leads me to think about some words from Jesus in Matthew 7. Jesus had just been teaching his disciples about prayer, worry and judging others. Then comes the instruction from Jesus in v7-8 and we are told to ‘ask and it will be given to us’, ‘seek and we will find’ and ‘knock and the door will be opened’. For, says Jesus, He who asks receives, He who seeks finds and to He who knocks the door will be opened. It is in this context that Jesus then comments about the type of Father that His Father is:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11
These are amazing verses to which I am currently drawn as we consider the imminent gift of another baby boy (due in May 2016). If even we, despite all our failures, know how to give good gifts to our children then how much more will our Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. That is the question Jesus presents us with. If there is anyone who knows how to give good gifts it is God who excels in doing so because He is the very source and definition of goodness itself!
Responding to our needs…
In thinking about a response to God’s bountiful provision it is hard not to look to two key passages which reflect upon this. The first is in Matthew 6:25-34 when Jesus teaches about worry and three times instructs us not to worry (v25, 31 & 34). Specifically Jesus tells us “do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?” (v31). In this passage Jesus gives a long list of reasons why we should not worry about these things. I want to home in on v32-33 which say;
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:32-33
Jesus is saying that we don’t need to be like those around who worry about such things because He has us covered, He knows that we need them. Instead we are to seek after the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Rather than focusing on the problem we are to focus on the solution, namely God Himself! There is a second part to that verse however and in it Jesus reiterates that as we seek after God, all these things will be given to us as well!
The second passage is in Philippians 4 where Paul is thanking the Christians in Phillipi for the gift they had sent him. They had been concerned for him but had not had an opportunity to show it. Paul however has some fascinating words to say about contentment;
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
What an amazing perspective to have that he could be content whether he faced need or whether he faced plenty. How is it even possible? Paul is clear that he can do this through Christ who gives him strength and he is confident in turn for them that “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (v19). So while our first challenge from Matthew 6 was to stop ‘worrying’ our second challenge is to be content whatever God gives us by way of facing either need or plenty. Thinking of myself neither of these (nor patience for that matter) are particular strengths of mine and if I am really honest both are probably more likely to be weaknesses than strengths.
Trusting God to Provide
So by way of conclusion it seems clear that God is even more interested in our needs than we are. He is the kind of Father who knows how to provide for His children and He provides bountifully for us in His timing and way. God cannot be manipulated or coerced into giving us what we want but rather it is His nature to provide for what we need. This is true for each us us whether we are supported by ‘gift income’ (as we are) or by ‘conventional income’ (as the majority of us are). Whether or not we recognise it, the truth is that each and every one of us is dependent on God for all we need. After all the same God provides for each of us whether it be through through gifts/donations or providing us with a salary/job. Once again we see that our hope in God is justified because He is the God who provides. We are told to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23) and in time we will all come to learn that He really is faithful. As we face some challenges ahead regarding our housing situation (namely too many people in too few rooms) I too am confident that God will provide Himself faithful!
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17