Sunday, July 27, 2008

Does my God supply?

I've overheard a number of conversations lately that have left me unsettled. One went something like this:
Person A: "I don't know what I'm going to do. I am all of out money and don't know how I'm going to feed my kids or make rent this month"
Person B: "You can't worry about that. You know God will provide for you. He has promised to care for all of our needs."

This got me to thinking back on MANY conversations I have heard. . .all recounting "God will take care of you. Don't worry. Your bills will be paid, food will be on the table. Have faith"

I have agreed. I have uttered this counsel. I have prayed alongside friends.

Then, something struck me to my core. Poverty. Extreme Poverty. People dying of starvation, of dirty drinking water, of preventable diseases. What about them? If we can promise, "God will take care of all your needs" what do we say in light of this? God isn't providing food, shelter and safety for every person on the planet. But. . we preach that He does. In fact, I would assert that the American church in general preaches this. This is who our God is. In fact, if we see Him any differently, we are at a crisis of belief. "Our" God is a genie in a bottle. Smile more. . .relax. . .He's got it covered.

So. . .which is it? Is He a God who allows people to die of lack of food or the God who provides for all of our needs? I think this may be one small reason that American Christians shy away from poverty. . .what does that do to my view of God? Either: He doesn't care for our needs or I've got Him wrong. My gut feeling: He's Unfaithful. gasp. that turns my world upside down.

Beth Moore says in Living Free that if you have found God unfaithful in a situation, it could be 1 of 3 things. 1. You didn't wait to see His answer 2. you missed His answer or 3. You misread His Promise. Where does that leave us? First, I had to examine what looked like unfaithfulness. What promises did He break in my vision of Him?
Matthew 6:25-27 25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?"
Wow. . .ok, that sounds to me like a promise of provision. However, I see that provision not coming through in Ethiopia right now.

Could I have misconstrued God? Does He promise to take care of us or not? Is He just letting these people down? Is it a result of sin and I'm letting them down? I have struggled with this for weeks. Seriously struggled. Not that I didn't trust God. . but I had to figure this thing out. People would say, "God will provide" and in my head I would think "or maybe He won't". . .or "What about the children dying?". I have wrestled and wrestled and was just about to make an appt. with my pastor to discuss this very thing. That Sunday, I went to church and by golly. . .that was the passage he spoke on. We were able to have lunch as a staff that week and hash it out even more. Here's what he pointed out. Look at context. Matt 5-7, goes through a great many items which need to be looked at as a whole. Don't just look at 5 verses. . .carefully go back to the verses on either side. In the Matthew case, the verses just prior are.
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."
A clear focus on possessions and what we should think of them. A clear challenge on what's important and where our focus should be. . .helping already to clear things up a little. On to the verses after the oh so controversial images that Jesus used.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
A challenge to not worry about details. To trust. You see. . I'm thinking I had one thing wrong. One thing that needed to be redefined. The word need. I see clear promises that He will take care of my needs and clear promises that He is big enough to do anything. I also see clear direction that this world is not what I was created for. Clear direction that this world is just the training ground for things to come. If this is true. . .maybe the word need as I have defined it is wrong? What if by need, He meant His presence, salvation, peace, faith, trust? After traveling to see poverty and also in reading others' accounts of poverty. . .this definition surely rang true. Even in extreme poverty, we see other's living out their faith with trust, peace and passion.

I'm thinking maybe the God of America (as the American church sees God) isn't quite formed right. Maybe God is not a genie in a bottle to be used for whatever I see as a need. He certainly will come up lacking if I perceive Him as such, for the word need is highly subjective. Need could be anything from food to health for my children. Neither of which are guaranteed in this world. And, if I place my trust in that. . if I see God as that kind of a god, will I be let down? Will I live life frustrated by a god who appears unfaithful?

Maybe, just maybe, the God of starving Ethiopia, AIDS ravaged Zimbabwe, the slums of Columbia, the dumps of Paraguay, the streets of Russia and the brothels of Cambodia is the Holy God. The Holy and unfathomable God who promises that He can and will take care of the needs of my heart, if I only let him. The God who, no matter the situation, will stand with me, will love me and will offer His salvation, His peace and His strength when I need it most. Maybe, just maybe we've gotten it all wrong. Maybe it is in poverty that I see my God for who He really is. Oh Jesus, I love you.

I leave you with 2 things. First, If God appears unfaithful in your life. I urge you to examine the promises you are holding Him too. Possibly, something needs to be redefined for you as well. Don't just live with a vision of an unfaithful God. 2. Watch this video. It helped me in my quest for understanding. They saw God meet a need. . without a provision.


18 comments:

Jman's momma said...

I have been struggling so much with the thought of God's grace being sufficient. This helps me get it better.

Amazing video and, SO, where we need to be. Who cares what got people where they are - Jesus said love them. Why can't we just do that - why is that so scary???? Seriously that is directed at myself :(

I am so glad God led me to your blog, and then on to so many others.


Love ~ anne

Cassie - Homeschooling Four said...

I have struggled with the same question before and never came to an answer. Thanks for sharing your journey.

Laura said...

Brandi,
Thanks so much for sharing your heart! I am still chewing on all that you said! That video was amazing - it gives me a lot of think about and pray about today!

Jamin said...

great blog, brandi. thanks.

Faith said...

Wow, powerful video. That really touched my heart. Thanks for sharing Brandi!

Blog Shmog said...

Oh gosh, what a great post. I too have been struggling with this lately. Thank you so much for thoughtfully writing this out. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Brandi. What a great post. And the video... thanks again... I love you!

~annee

Misi said...

Amen.

DeniseinSC said...

oh so good, and so true! Lord, use this in my life! I'm going to have to read this again tomorrow and print it off!!! Love u, Denise

Melissa said...

watched the video and the tears were pouring :) You were right on, no provision, no one was healed, but hope was restored and that is a gift in itself.

Thank you for sharing your heart so openly and honestly.

Anonymous said...

Wow Brandi what a thought provoking post! I do agree that when it appears God has not "come through" it is a problem in us-our expectations, understandings, etc. God is always good-we in our limited perception and understanding can never understand all His ways (my thoughts are not your thoughts , my ways are not your ways)
Thank you for once again giving us so good thoughts to mull over
Julie L

Andrea said...

Brandi,
I always appreciate your insight. I know you are always mentioning the Bible studies you are in. I was wondering if you had any recommendations for your favorite study guides for a group of moms.

Brandi said...

Andrea,

One of my favorite studies is Experiencing God. That's a great start for a group as well! I'd love to help you more. . do you want to just email me? brandi@kidslake.org This is one of my passions!

Brandi

Anonymous said...

Love you hon - thanks for sharing your heart, your thoughts...not sure I can wrap my mind around all of that yet - it is a struggle, and I'm not on the other side of it yet. Loved the video - it's really powerful...to me its not just about those in africa, but the people at the grocery store we don't want to make eye contact with, the mentally ill, the person with the past, or whatever it may be - the people we struggle to love (we all have them - we MUST recognize it)...
Love you - Renae

Wife to the Rockstar said...

WOW WOW WOW. Awesome post and so many things I have mulled over these past few years. Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thoughts and the video brandi. It makes me wonder who in my community needs me to show up and be a presence! Susan

Spankie said...

ya nailed it sis....

Blessings

Brother Frankie

Angel said...

Great post girl... really great. Angel