“We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” ― Charles R. Swindoll
In the last post I wrote about picking up a hitchhiker for whom being homeless on the road has been a great gift of spiritual growth and strengthening. The story has some great lessons about the providence of our God. Jesus told us the following in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 6: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The “Gentiles” to whom Jesus refers were not a specific culture or race, rather a general term for those not of the Jewish faith and ethnicity. “Gentile” is also used in the New Testament for those who have not chosen to believe in or follow God. Here Jesus states that worrying and striving after food, drink, or clothing is characteristic of those who do not believe in or follow our God.
The Greek word translated as “strive” means to crave after or eagerly seek something. The term is one of urgency. Jesus is pointing out that for those who truly trust in their God, there is no need to crave or eagerly seek after these basic necessities; our God knows and cares about our needs. He intends to supply for us if we will yield to Him and let Him work. The problem is, we usually don’t yield. We take up the pursuit of what we need or want with no thought of letting our God do His work. Someone must yield, must stand aside. If we will not stand aside, then our God will do so. He will let us toil and scurry on our own if we so choose.
Jeff, the hitchhiker I introduced in the previous post, has figured this out. As a result he experiences the abundant provision of our God daily. This has strengthened his faith and led to much joy and peace in the process. So many believers never find such joy and peace because the never let go of the striving.
Four days before picking up Jeff on Highway 2, I picked up a wadded-up $20 bill on the sidewalk near my home. No one was in sight and I had no clue to whom it belonged. I asked my God what I should do with it. He instructed me to keep separated from the rest of my cash, because He had a use for it in a few days. Driving into Red Lake Falls where I would drop Jeff off, God again spoke about the $20, letting me it was for Jeff. I pulled it out of the wallet, still wadded up and crumpled, and told Jeff how I came to have it. As I handed it to Him, he said it would supply the food and supplies he needed for that day and then some. Our God makes good on His promises.
My older brother, a writer and blogger, once told me that God is never late concerning His promises, and that He is never early, either. How true that is. The art of trusting our God is to wait patiently for His timing. His timing is rarely our timing. If we do not wait, we begin to strive like the people who do not know or follow our God. That is not our calling. It is not our birthright. It is not appropriate give ourselves over to striving as if our God does not supply for us.
We do not have to be homeless or unemployed to accomplish this seeking and craving, but to hear Jeff tell it that might help many of us. We can voluntarily turn these matters over to our God every day. In doing so I have found Him to be completely reliable. Sometimes circumstances will be lean, or even difficult – we will go through what I call “thin times.” I have never known my God to not come through. Sometimes it is right down to the wire, He always comes through.
We have been conditioned to question these thin times in our lives, to doubt our God’s supply. Yet it is precisely in these times that our God is supplying a greater focus on Himself, a stronger faith, an opportunity to draw nearer to Him and to fix our eyes upon Him. He gives us opportunities to love Him more than we love the world and the things of the world.
I think some of our difficulty with this is that we are expecting much more than we need. We have listened to the world around us and have come to crave more and more. Satisfaction is foreign to us. Why do we insist on worrying about such things in such quantities? Why do we assume it is up to us to supply them for ourselves?
What our God supplies may not be in our timing. It may arrive four days early like the $20 bill on the sidewalk, or arrive just in time like that same $20 did for Jeff. It may arrive because someone was awakened 30 minutes early for no known reason, only to be in the right place at the right time as it was for Jeff and for me that morning. It may not arrive as we expected it to, but it will always be what we need for the moment.
“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”