God Provides: Like Manna in the Wilderness

God is the Great Provider.

I’d known that since childhood, but I didn’t truly recognize His personal provision for our every need until I was in my early thirties, with two young children and another one on the way, a husband who worked several extra jobs on the side, and an income that still didn’t cover all our expenses.

It was a desert season. We were frustrated by trying to make our money stretch, I was depressed, and our marriage was stuck in neutral. The tunnel looked dark, and I couldn’t see a way out.

On paper we were poor, yet I can look back now and see how I richly experienced God’s presence during that time. With a burgeoning belly, one toddler on my hip, and another wrapped around my knees, it wasn’t uncommon for me to open my near- empty refrigerator and whisper prayers of petition wrapped in thanksgiving: God, You will meet our every need. You have never failed us. You are in control. It was a “this is it” season. This, I would tell myself, is when our faith is proven real.

It wasn’t the first period in my life when I’d been forced to depend on God alone. A key example is the day my friend Courtney died tragically in a car wreck. I’d known Jesus as my personal Savior for ten years at that point, but at just nineteen, my faith was still mostly untested and immature. I felt empty, alone, and abandoned by God. The day I lost Courtney is still clear in my memory. Stifling tear-filled screams as I clenched and unclenched my fists, I crumpled to my dorm room floor and clasped my hands over my heart. “Where are You, Jesus?” I asked audibly, as I nearly hyperventilated. “Where are You now? Why can’t I feel You? Are You even real?”

Through heavy-hearted days during which sleep evaded me, God slowly, gently began to heal my grief. He soothed me through 1 Peter 1:6-9:

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Jim and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Fast forward more than a decade, and the circumstances of this season were certainly different from that heartbreaking day in 1999. But in this trial, too, God was building our faith. Just as I personally had learned to trust Him as I walked through a season of grief, our family would learn to trust God during a season of need. It had been easy to trust Him when we weren’t in want. Now that we were, God was cultivating in us a deeper faith, a stronger trust in His provision.

I started looking at and crediting each and every incident as God’s provision for our family. Like manna in the wilderness, the Lord provided again and again and again. As time passed, I saw it more clearly than ever, and looking back, I realize He provided all along.

The manna or “bread” from heaven in Exodus 16 wasn’t what the Israelites wanted, but it was what they needed. It wasn’t extravagant, and in their shortsightedness, forgetting the turmoil the Egyptians inflicted upon them, they grumbled against God’s provision. Still, it met their needs.

Born in the United States to a semi-affluent family, I’d never experienced true want. I’d lived in abundance, as most of us in this country do. But now that my family was in need, God proved that we truly lacked nothing. Perhaps we desired more, but just as the Lord had provided for the Israelites in the desert, He covered our needs.

Whether it was through a playhouse at a garbage dump or fruit from a stranger, God has consistently provided for our family’s needs. The ways He can do this for you too are unlimited.

Good deals, great finds, and unexpected gifts

Have you ever opened your mailbox to find a higher tax return than you anticipated, a rebate from an item you purchased, or an unexpected check? None of these are random, my friend. When we cultivate a spirit of gratitude for God’s provision, we’ll see clearly how He cares for us in tangible ways. (And I argue that He gives to us so we can, in turn, give back to others as well.)

When our firstborn was three, her pediatrician diagnosed her with gluten intolerance. At the time, we were struggling to buy basic groceries. How would we rise to the overwhelming challenge of fitting expensive gluten-free foods into our budget? Not long after her diagnosis, I was poring over my weekly meal plan when I heard a knock on our front door. It was one of Will’s coworkers, Kathy. Kathy has celiac disease, which had forced her to go gluten-free several years earlier. She knew how expensive gluten-free foods cost, and she knew how little money we had. She took it upon herself to purchase some extra gluten-free groceries that day. Among them were gluten-free animal crackers for our little girl.

I held back tears as we accepted this surprise gift. It was enough food for the next few days, and it helped me realize we could trust the Lord to meet our future needs because He showed over and over that He met our present ones.

Another time, my college roommate’s parents offered our little family an entire week at their beach house. Our marriage was stuck in survival mode, I was expecting our second daughter, and we hadn’t had a real vacation in years. The tiny town of Edisto, South Carolina, provided a much-needed respite during that week. We thanked my friend’s parents for their generosity and told them how they were testaments to us of God’s provision, not only for our physical needs but also for our hearts during a turbulent time in our lives.

I believe that God provides for all of our needs; nothing is coincidental. The wild blackberries we foraged from my parents’ back yard? Those were from God. The packages of organic rolled oats that showed up at Big Lots? They were from God. The gluten-free cake mix that landed on the clearance shelf for a fraction of the retail price? Yes, from God as well.

When we choose to believe events like these are simply coincidences or somehow our own doing, we fail to credit the One who has orchestrated our entire lives (Psalm 139:16), the One who has promised to provide for all our needs (Philippians 4:19), the One who deserves glory in everything (1 Corinthians 10:31) since the beginning of time. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6), and sometimes His provision comes in the form of a Craigslist find or a great deal at the store.

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Excerpted with permission from More Than Just Making It by Erin Odom, copyright Erin Odom.

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Your Turn

Have you ever been in a precarious place where you were all tapped out and in great need? I have. It can lead us to wonder Where are You, God? Do You see me? Will You help me? God is our great Provider! He sees you. He sees your need. Let’s keep our eyes open for the good deals, great finds, and unexpected gifts He provides and acknowledge His goodness! Come share your thoughts on the faith-building situation of being in need with us on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

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Erin Odom

Erin Odom is the founder of The Humbled Homemaker, a blog dedicated to grace-filled living and designed to equip and encourage mothers in the trenches. Her Southern charm and wealth of inspirational, practical content has drawn an audience of millions over the years. Erin and her husband, Will, live in the South, where they raise their four children.

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