Yet I Will Rejoice in the Lord

I’ve been struggling for some time now with faith about God’s provision. Some days are fine and others not so much. We’ve never been in such a hard place financially and I’m fighting between trusting Him to get us through (which I do know He will) and not knowing what to believe Him for. I know the “answers” that are typically given for this: “Just trust His promises”, etc. And I do trust Him. Where I struggle is in the not knowing what that actually implies.

Yes, He can provide for us by sending us what we materially need – money, whatever. But He can also provide by withholding those things for another purpose.

The Lord has given me several scriptures recently to dwell on that have to do with trusting Him in times of need. They leaped off the page and demanded my attention:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

– Habakkuk 3:17 ff

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;

– Job 13:15

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

– Philippians 4:11 ff

Philippians 4 in particular seems to imply that His promise to provide for us does not mean that we won’t have times of hunger and want. It’s about how we handle those times when they come that counts.

My experience has been that His work in me follows a pattern:

  1. A long period of happy ignorance where His grace protects me from the consequences of my own weakness or sin.
  2. At some point of His choosing, He reveals the area to me by making His word come alive about it.
  3. He removes His grace in that area so that I begin to fall flat on my face – another way of seeing that I begin to face my true state of weakness or sin.
  4. A period of struggle ensues, a battle between my attempts to ignore it and His to reveal it, my trying to get His grace back to cover it and His refusal to give it. I argue with Him, beg Him, stew in anger, cry in frustration, and on it goes for the duration of my extensive ability to fight Him.
  5. I finally reach the end of myself and give myself to Him in that area and I am changed.

In my current struggle over trusting Him for provision, I see that He wants me to praise Him and thank Him and trust Him, regardless of the circumstances.

As part of this, He’s given me a sense of urgency about tithing. So I’ve been giving 10%, which in our current financial state, is truly sacrificial. He’s given me a goal to get to the point of giving without holding back in any way. Whatever I have is His. Tithing has been an area of weakness for me over the years. On the one hand, I was never faithful in it. On the other hand, when I did give, it was usually in a time of plenty, so there was no real sacrifice. And what I’m discovering is that sacrifice is a wonderful and precious opportunity to truly love the Lord and His people from your heart.

Sometimes God gives me a clear set of goals ahead of time. And in this case, He’s done just that. His goal for me is to let go of the burden and anxiety about my own needs. I’m still far too influenced by the tangible. I get too easily discouraged and depressed and hopeless when my needs aren’t met and too content and relieved when they are. The goal is to have the same state of mind no matter what. I’m not there yet; I’m in #4 in the list above, but I do know where I’m going.

- August 26, 2014