(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)
My wife does a great job providing healthy foods for our family, and that’s no small feat. Our lives, like many of yours, are extremely busy. When we’re on a roll with some type of work, it seems easier to get fast food on the fly than to prepare meals at home. Even when we’re enjoying leisure time or serving in ministries on weekends, we can get caught up in the moment, skip a meal and just grab a snack or try to catch up later. But those shouldn’t be regular options because they’re not healthy habits.
Providing healthy foods isn’t always popular with our family either. I have to pay the extra cost; my wife has to spend the extra time; and our kids don’t necessarily like the “old man cereals” Dad picks for breakfast. Even when the meals are fit for a king (and they usually are), at least one of us can name a reason they want something else. I’m guessing you can relate in some area of your life.
The good things provided are not always appreciated, and many of the things that we seek instead are not always what we truly need.
When God was taking the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to Life with Him in the promised land, He literally made quail and sweet-tasting wafers fall from the sky. . . and they still complained. Yet God was and remains undaunted. He will provide what His children need for a healthy diet of faith and obedience to Him. We can think of that as Vitamin G3: the goodness of God by the grace of God for the glory of God. (Romans 11:36) Consider this video that introduced the basics of God’s provision in the third day of creation.
Whenever the Lord describes His provision for His people – whether it is much or little material fruit (Proverbs 30:7-9), good or great spiritual growth (Matthew 13:8), blessing or hardship (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), smaller or greater measures of faith (Romans 12:3), few “smaller” spiritual gifts or many “greater” spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14), high or low position (James 1:9-10) – He reminds them that their provision is for the seed of fruitful worship (pun intended) to encourage their joy in Him, not the things as an end in themselves. (Deuteronomy 8:1ff, Matthew 6:19-24, 1 Timothy 6:3-10, etc.) Yet, that is often exactly how prosperity often ends.
Instead of resting in what great provisions we enjoy or wrestling about what providing we don’t enjoy, what if we honored God by thanking Him for whatever He’s given.
Years ago, I heard a true story of a Christian man who was sent to serve in a foreign mission field, but he was really depressed and frustrated with the miserable ministry that he felt God had provided for him. On one particular day when he was fuming and moaning in his spirit, he was called to take his place up front to lead a group of locals in singing and heard a request for a specific hymn. “Count your blessings”, she said. “Can we sing that one?” He looked up to see who had asked his dry soul to lead such a joyful song.
It was a leprous woman. Her hand in the air had only nubs where her fingers had been. Part of her nose was gone. She was careful to cover as much of the rest of her as possible. But he could still see her diseased, sincere smile.
The missionary said he ran from the stage in tears. But they were tears of repentance for his grumbling heart, tears of thanks for what God had provided for him, and tears of joy for the obvious heart God had provide for that dear woman. He said he would never sing that song again without thinking of her and the great God who had provided for her what can never spoil or fade in eternity.
I pray that He provides you and me with whatever it takes to glorify and enjoy Him like that, too. One of the keys to more consistent thankfulness (or proper repentance) is to remember that God’s protection and provision of the third day are always preparations for His purpose of the fourth day: worship. And we’ll cover that tomorrow.
Unless otherwise indicated, Jeff Dillard is the author of all posts in this blog, the goal of which is your greater joy in Christ through leadership and counseling. Jeff and his wife, Lauren, have been married since 1995. By God’s grace, they have four wonderful children and two grandchildren. Jeff was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America and commissioned as an Army Chaplain in 1998. He has Master’s degrees in Divinity, History, and Counseling. Since 1998, he’s had the privilege of equipping and encouraging others’ faith and service to the Lord Jesus by leading congregations and counseling in multicultural settings across the United States. Seven of those years have been in Germany, Korea, and Iraq. For leisure, Jeff enjoys simple time with his family, exercise, playing guitar and trumpet, and trying foreign foods with friends.
Please note that the contents of tools4trenches do not necessarily reflect specific beliefs or practices of organizations in which Jeff works or worships.