Lesson Four: Trust in the Source not the Resource
Back in 1961, famous author John Steinbeck drove a pickup truck across the American landscape with his dog, Charley. The stories of his travels are recorded in his classic book Travels with Charley. In a letter to his editor about his journey, Steinbeck says:
“In all my travels I saw very little real poverty, I mean the grinding terrifying poorness of the Thirties. That at least was real and tangible. No, it was a sickness, a kind of wasting disease. There were wishes but no wants. And underneath it all the building energy like gases in a corpse. When that explodes, I tremble to think what will be the result. Over and over I thought we lack the pressures that make men strong and the anguish that makes men great.”
Perhaps, because of the almost unbroken prosperity our nation has enjoyed for over fifty years, we as individuals have outgrown the need to place our trust in the God who is called Jehovah Jireh – “The Lord will Provide.” Yet, when you think about it, many of the notable defining moments of our lives occur in times of crisis and loss. C.S. Lewis said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciousness, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
I find it compelling how hard it is to forget what pains we had in a time of loss, yet how much harder still it is to remember what joys we had in a time of gain. The discomfort we endure in times like these forms the costly pearls of our faith. We have no victory crowns to show for bliss. Gain gets all the good press, but in the end it’s your loss you hold dear since it is your best teacher.
The COVID-19 virus is no respecter of persons, professions, or industries. Every sector in our economy is suffering loss. The real stuff of life is not what happens to us but how we react to it. Yes, God is concerned about what happens to us but I believe He is more deeply concerned about what happens in us. This virus is peeling away all of the outer layers and revealing to us the true nature of our faith and what kind of trust actually resides in our hearts.
One of the great lessons God taught Israel in the ten plagues in Egypt was to absolutely trust in Him for their provision. One particular lesson was given to them in the Passover meal. Each family was to prepare a young lamb for the evening meal and God gave them this strange commandment concerning what to do with the leftover meat:
“And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.” -Exodus 12:10
Why didn’t God allow them to save the leftovers for their exodus out of Egypt the next morning? They would need food for their families and leftover lamb would be a good source of protein for the beginning of their journey. The reason is that God was teaching them that from here forward they would have no way possible to find adequate resources in the wilderness and He needed them to trust solely in Him as their source if they were going to survive the journey. The Bible specifically points this out when it records:
“….they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.” -Exodus 12:39
So, God wanted the children of Israel to trust in their source (Jehovah Jireh) rather than their resources. God taught this same lesson in Israel’s wilderness journey with the manna from heaven. The manna appeared on the ground each morning and God commanded the Israelites to take only what they needed for that day. Some tried to hoard manna perhaps fearing they would not have enough the next day but the manna only had a shelf life of one day and whatever was hoarded rotted. God was teaching them to depend on Him every day. He gave them a daily reminder His mercies are new every morning!
When this virus subsides and life goes back to normal my hope and prayer for all of us is that the anguish and pressure we are all feeling will cause us to place our hope in our one true source – Jehovah Jireh – The Lord our Provider. Each test and trial we go through is actually a mercy. Presently, God is lovingly teaching us how to depend upon Him. If this virus is one of the birth pangs Jesus mentions in Matthew 24 what will the full labor of the end times be like?
Thank you Lord for your mercy in this moment of anguish as You teach us to trust in You completely. Peel away the callous layers of our hearts and bring us to a place of total trust in You as our provider. Forgive us for the times we have feared when our resources ran low and doubted Your awesome ability to provide our needs. Thank you that as we look back over our lives Your mercies were (and are) new every morning. Lord, may we know and believe that if we place our trust in You we will never be forsaken or put to shame and our children will never beg for bread.
It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw
that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good.
Gradually, it was disclosed to me that the line separating
good and evil passes not through states, nor between
classes, nor between political parties either –
but right through every human heart – and through
all human hearts…I nourished my soul there, and I say
without hesitation: Bless you, prison, for having been in my life.
-Alexander Solzhenitisyn, The Gulag Archipelago