During the past couple of months, our family has experienced a long list of trials. During this time of hardship and prayer I have been pondering the nature of the Lord’s provision. I praise God that one of His names is Jehova -Jireh, or The Lord Who Provides. We know just by that name but also from countless places in scripture as well that it is in His very nature to provide lovingly for His children.
I have realized, though, that so often my definition of “provision” cannot possibly be the definition that the Lord had in mind when He proclaims Himself to be the Lord of provision. My mind wants to believe that provision means me or those that I love receiving all that we need to not be in pain, to not be uncomfortable, to not be hurt, to not be lonely or sick or unhappy or in need… When trials come, so often I pray that the Lord will provide a way for the hardships to disappear. My heart and mind can tend to equate provision with resolution and relief.
This finds its way into my life as a missionary too. When my circumstances aren't what I feel that I need in order to thrive on the field, I pray for the Lord’s provision. I think I should pray these prayers, because very often God does delight in meeting these felt needs, but do I look upon silence or “no” to these prayers as a lack of provision? How long do I wait for provision in the nature of what I was envisioning, and when do I accept that His perfect provision might look different than what I had hoped or reasoned to be necessary?
We all know very well that trials and suffering are a part of the Lord’s will for the life of the believer, but what has hit me in a new way recently is how trials and suffering are not only part of His will, eventually crafted into good, but they are also part of His perfect and timely provision that we each pray and trust Him for. They are provision for our growth and good, and provide opportunities for His glory.
I went through a time of heavy loneliness last Fall, and on the day of my daughter’s birthday it seemed that 3 mom friends were going to accompany their children to the party. I was starved for fellowship and so greatly looking forward to spending time with them. I had praised God for His loving provision for my loneliness in the promise of their company. Then, on the day of the party, it turned out that none of them came. One didn’t even let me know in advance. I was heartbroken in that moment because I truly felt that I was in desperate need of fellowship. My heart was full of sadness and I “needed” a girlfriend to talk to. I cried and prayed to the Lord and He answered me so lovingly during that time. He showed me that not allowing my friends to come that night was His perfect provision for me and the perfect answer to my prayers. I thought I needed Him to provide for my loneliness, and I did, but looking back, I see that He needed to provide opportunity for me to cling to Him and nothing else. I grew closer to the Lord during that time. He provided fellowship and intimacy with Him. He knew my true need and He provided abundantly for it.
How about you? Have you experienced or are you experiencing anything recently where you’ve sought the Lord’s provision but found His response or seeming lack thereof confusing? Do you have any encouraging stories to share with us about seeing how a perceived lack of provision actually was the Lord’s perfect provision for you?