Tuesday, June 23, 2015

God Will Provide...but How?

First, I'd like to apologize for my extended absence. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you will know that eight weeks ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and that since then, I've been in the process of preparing to move. While my intentions post-baby were to maintain the blog, as a first time mom I had no idea what was in store for me, and parenting is a much bigger task than I realized.

Be that as it may, I've finally got the little Bumblebee on a semi-decent sleeping schedule, and I believe I can start blogging again during naptimes. Here's hoping.

Photo Credit: All-free-download.com

Between the birth of my daughter, our income situation, and my husband's job change, it's been a stressful year. I've struggled a lot with worry. I've never been afraid that we would miss a rent payment or be unable to afford groceries, but I have worried about paying loans, hospital bills, or taxes. I've worried about having a job or having insurance. I've been afraid we won't be able to afford to visit family, or buy the new clothes we needed.

When I face worry, people like to remind me of Matthew 6. "Do not be anxious about your life....all these things will be added to you." They remind me not to worry, because God will provide. "God promises us in Jeremiah 29:11 that 'I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,'" they would say.

I agree wholeheartedly. God has wonderful plans for my family. My daughter, my husband, and I will be taken care of. God has promised, and I trust His promises. God will provide.

What does that mean, though? "God will provide." The promises of Matthew 6 and Jeremiah 29 applied to the martyrs, as well, didn't they? If Stephen was more valuable than the birds of the air, why was he stoned? If Peter was equally valued, why was he crucified? All those children of God, for whom God has plans "to prosper...and not to harm", why did He not provide food, clothing, shelter, protection for them? "Some were tortured...suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated...wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." (Hebrews 11) Did God renege on His promises to them? When my husband and I have financial difficulties, has God abandoned us?

By no means! Rather, those promises are for something even better than earthly provision. Yes, when we receive good things on earth, those are from God, certainly. But the ultimate fulfillment of Matthew 6, of Jeremiah 29, of all the promises in Scripture, comes in the person of Jesus Christ. The "hope and a future" given to us is the life and salvation given to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We receive them through Word and Sacraments, through the life-giving waters of Holy Baptism, and through the body and blood of Christ in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

So when my husband and I don't know how we'll afford to cover the gas to get to a job interview and a friend gives us a gas card without being asked, we know that God is providing. When we don't how we'll cover our student loans and we get accepted for income-based repayment, we know that God is providing. And we know that even if He doesn't provide for our earthly financial needs, even if we are homeless, naked, starving, persecuted, God has promised to provide something we need far more than food, clothing, shelter, and protection. He has given us forgiveness, life, and salvation. When we leave this world, we will be free from all our needs. There is no need for us to worry.

I sin continually. I worry that we won't be able to pay back our loans. I worry that we won't have a place to live. I worry that we won't have insurance. So far, God has provided for all those earthly needs despite my worries. And like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to King Nebuchadnezzar, when I face trials, even through my worry I can say with confidence, "our God whom we serve is able to deliver us...and He will deliver us out of your hand. But if not, be it known to you...that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (Daniel 3). By God's grace, He will provide for my family here on earth, but if He will not, we will not worship the golden image of materialism or serve the gods of fear and worry. I know that He has given us a heavenly kingdom, and I know that He will always provide for our spiritual needs.

One day, I will be free from these struggles and fears. Until that day, I pray, "come, Lord Jesus."