A friend once told me she wished she could get fat on the blessings God was giving her so they would carry her through the lean times. Although this picture of fullness is lovely—and it’s a delight to rejoice with our friends in seasons of blessing—the metaphor made me pause. In my experience, yesterday’s blessings can’t sustain the weak and weary soul in seasons of sharp grief and unrelenting pain. And, thankfully, God doesn’t expect them to.
Rather, what we repeatedly see in the Bible is imagery of daily provision. It may seem like a small difference—in both seasons of bountiful feasting and simple daily care, the Lord provides—but the distinction is important. Understanding the imagery of biblical provision helps us better understand how God takes care of his people in times of trial.
Daily Care in Times of Need
When the Israelites wandered in the desert, they grumbled against the Lord because they were hungry. In answer, God sent them manna—bread from heaven—to cover the ground every morning (Exod. 16:1–5). The Israelites were only supposed to gather enough for each day. Those who kept their stores of manna overnight found it filled with maggots when they awoke (Exod. 16:20). (And can I just say, gross.)
Israel was supposed to trust that God would provide for them, not just occasionally, but every day. This is a great comfort to those of us wandering through our own wildernesses of financial worry, emotional strain, physical ailment, or spiritual weariness. God may ask us to walk through difficult seasons. He may not take away our struggles with one sweeping act, but he demonstrates his steadfast love and unfailing care by seeing us across these wildernesses one day at a time. He may not remove your financial burdens, but he’ll sustain you through them (Matt. 6:25–34). He may take your child home before you’re able to see her face, but he’ll comfort you in your anguish (Ps. 34:18). He may ask you to pilgrim through valleys of shadow, through depression, anxiety, loss, betrayal and grief, but he promises to be with you to guide you, strengthen you, and bring you home at last (Ps. 23, Eph. 3:14–21). In this way, we can look back over our seasons of wilderness and see reminders of God’s provision. It forces us to see his continual work in our lives so we can say, “That was the hand of the Lord.”
Trusting the Lord Is Proactive
In Matthew 6:11, Jesus prays, “Give us today our daily bread.” This isn’t bread for the week or the month, or for whenever we might want it in the future. We don’t get to keep it on hand like our weekly groceries. This is grace and mercy given every day by a gracious Father who knows what we need.
Jesus follows the prayer with instructions to store up treasures in heaven—treasures that won’t be destroyed by the decay of time (vs. 19–24)—and not to worry about earthly needs because, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?” (vs. 25–34)
Trusting the Lord is not only a command of prohibition (don’t worry, don’t store treasures), but also an active instruction. We’re not to worry, but we are to seek God’s kingdom. We’re not to store up earthly treasures, but we are to store up heavenly ones.
These instructions go hand-in-hand. It’s far easier to trust God with your relationship status when you understand that none of us shall be given in marriage in heaven (Matt. 22:30) but will be fully known and fully loved by a God we can see face-to-face (1 Cor. 13:12). It’s far easier to turn over our worries about reputation, financial stability, and earthly achievements when we consider that they are dust (Gen. 3:19), that a better land awaits us (Zeph. 3:20, John 14:2).
God Has Already Provided the Bread of Life
In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well. He tells her that she’ll be thirsty again after drinking this water, but that he has water which will become in the drinker “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (vs. 7–14). Two chapters later, Jesus explains to the Jews that he is the true bread of heaven, and that those who partake of him will never be hungry or thirsty again (John 6:32–35).
On the night Jesus was taken to be crucified, he offered bread to his disciples and said, “This is my body” (Mark 14:22), a body which then bore the sins of the world that we might indeed live forever.
We are also members of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27) and this body ministers to the people of God as well. In ordinary ways to extraordinary effect—like bread from heaven—the Lord uses his church to bless, provide, encourage, and sustain his people through this earthly wandering. I’ve seen this often as friends have given generously to me of their resources—sharing meals and helping cover bills when I was stretched thin, or sharing their time as they sat with me in grief, extended hands of comfort, and prayed with me to this God who provides.
Through the sacrifice of Christ’s physical body, we have eternal life, and through the ministering of his church, we have companionship in suffering and in rejoicing (1 Cor. 12:14–26). Truly, our God provides.
Our God doesn’t ask us to wander in the wilderness of life, surviving on the memory of former meals. He’s the God who prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies (Ps. 23:5). He’s the God who brought food to Elijah with ravens (1 Kings 17:4–6), the God who fed thousands with only five loaves and two fish (Matt. 14:13–21). He’s the God who gave his very self for us, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Mark 14:22). Even in Lamentations—a book titled for grief—the prophet Jeremiah says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22–23).
God blesses us with seasons of abundance, but how sweet are his earthly mercies in times of drought—new every morning, reminding us to trust him and look toward eternity.