I wrote this piece three years ago for the Christian Pundit.
Writing about God’s provisions is two-sided for me. On one hand, it is a way to point others to our great God and say “Look! Look what He can do! He is faithful, He is constant, He is your provider. Let me tell you what He’s done for me!” But I’ve been in a place where stories of God’s provisions for others taunted me. They were like bitter drops on my thirsty soul–a soul that was feeling left out on the line, parched, forgotten by God. A detail forgotten in the Great Care Plan, providence.
My husband, Darryl, and I had experienced the close and gracious hand of God in unique way as we served in mission positions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for five years. But when the Lord gave a unique gift in our fourth child, Calvin Luke, it seemed like His hand of provision drifted away and instead began a very painful process of stripping us down to the bare, raw parts of life and soul. Calvin was born in Bangkok, Thailand with microcephaly (small head) and severe brain damage. Today Calvin is nearing three years of age. He’s nearly blind and cannot roll, hold a toy, lift his head, or perform any sort of purposeful movement (except for opening his mouth to kiss us, sweet eh?). He cannot eat by mouth and has trouble with an airway that collapses under stress. We are now living in the United States so he can receive proper medical care.
The time between birth and the present have the closest misery to hell we’ve ever experienced. Our Father saw fit to take away our life in Cambodia. A life we were thriving in and a ministry bearing fruit. He stripped us of a job and income. He stripped me of the ability to mother my other three young children, they were largely underfoot and ignored as we struggled to keep our youngest alive. He stripped my illusion that God would keep my children safe from harm (especially felt when our other son, Noah, had to undergo major open heart surgery in the midst of all this). He withheld his deliverance and pressed us harder and harder until it felt easier to die than face another day.
Stories of provision stung in that place. Stories of God giving fulness when my plate was empty and my soul so hungry and my body so weary. “Just a crumb, Lord, just a crumb?” I’d plead. Did God love other believers better than me? Why was His hand so hard, why did He return our confident prayers with a staggering blow? Mercy, show me mercy. I became bosom friends with David, and met with him in the Psalms. He gave words to my pain and frustration: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear O Lord and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper” (Psalm 30:8-10).
David wrestled with God, argued or made a case to God for His provision while David was in an undelivered state. And this became our pattern in pleading for our heavenly Father’s provision with our souls and material needs. When I began to question if the Lord was really hearing or if the Lord was there at all: “Keep me Lord, I am full of unbelief and doubt and anger. I will wander far from You if you do not keep me.” When we’d wake to another morning of seizures and felt too weary to lift a foot from bed: “Where is the joy that comes in the morning? Give us the morning, Lord, put an end to this long night.” When my soul would drown in sorrow and be threatened by strong unbelief: “Lord you’ve said that we can cast our burden on you and you will sustain us! Sustain then Lord, my feet are slipping. Take this burden.”
We would preach God’s very words of truth and provision to ourselves constantly. We were standing in the desert and knew He could make an oasis in the soul-searing pain. We’d remind each other that there would come an end to this, even if we never knew God’s deliverance on this side of the grave, there would be an eternal provision, an eternal restoration: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10). When we were pressed hard by cold providence we reminded each other of the Lord’s love and tenderness of us: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not graciously give us all things?” When prayer seemed pointless: “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).
Do you see how He has already made every provision for our souls in his Word? It waits for faith to be made alive and real and comforting to the soul. The very words we would remind ourselves of were works of His hands to draw us closer and closer as we looked over our shoulders to unbelief and fear. He kept our souls. He is keeping our souls. Yesterday’s provisions are not enough for today. I need fresh provision each and every day. My soul wilts and my heart feels heavy as I look at circumstances but His word places exuberant joy and praise in my heart. It gives me life each day. This is His provision. He has turned the painful realities into real places of spirit-work. Places where we can meet Him more clearly with the layers of distraction peeled away. He has made our broken jars of clay alive with the light within. This is His provision.
I could tell you stories of the “rain of mercy” God gave to our family after that dry hard time. I could tell you about the checks that came in the mail so we could pay rent, buy groceries, and get hair-cuts. I could tell you about the check that came from a stranger that refilled the savings account which had completely emptied from medical bills–the exact amount we had to start with. I could tell you about the first house that came up in our budget, how it had a handicap room on the main floor and a playground across the street–two things I’d specifically been praying for. I could tell you about house-hunting and how God gave us the house we are now living in–the very house we’d been renting. But I wonder if you too are in that dry place–the place where no material provisions have been made. I wonder if you too feel strung out and left to dry. Would these stories be salt in your wounds?
Take heart my friend. Open His Word, there is provision for you too. It’s better provision than money or houses or health. It’s soul provision–real live, spirit-accompanied soul provision. Wrestle with God for it. He can and will saturate the thirsty soul with His provision. “But may all who see you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God”