The Quantity and the Quality of God’s Provision

The Bible is full of stories of the provision of God. God provides sons, food, deliverance, hope, and money. Take, for example, the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarapheth in 1 Kings 17. God’s prophet announced that because of the idolatry in the land, the Lord would be withholding rain. We read later that it was at least 3 years between the declaration and when the rain started to fall, and during that time, God provided for the needs of Elijah through a widow.

Ironically, though, she didn’t have much to give:

“When he arrived at the city gate, there was a widow woman gathering wood. Elijah called to her and said, ‘Please being me a little water in a cup and let me drink.’ As she went to get it, he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.’

But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I don’t have anything baked – only a handful of flour in the jar and a bit of oil in the jug. Just now, I am gathering a couple of sticks in order to go prepare it for myself and my son so we can eat it and die’ ” (1 Kings 17:10-12).

Keep reading the story and you’ll see that Elijah promised her that the flour jar and the oil jug would not run dry until rain finally fell again. So God provided for the prophet, but also for this widow. The quantity of provision was there.

But I put myself in the place of this widow, and I know that for the first few weeks, my heart would overflow with thankfulness and wonder. But then I wonder if I’d get tired of the little bread cakes He had provided.

Notice that the Lord didn’t give her a rack of lamb or a plate of caviar. He provided bread. Plain, old miraculous bread. Day in and day out.

Yawn.

I wonder if Elijah himself got tired of eating food from the mouths of birds.

I wonder if there was anyone on the hillside who didn’t like the bread and the fish Jesus gave to them.

I wonder if there were any Israelites who got tired of the taste of manna (actually I don’t wonder about this one. I know they did.)

I wonder if there was anyone like me, who might see clearly that the Lord has provided in quantity but question His quality. If so, the issue isn’t so much with the power of God; it’s with the love and care of God. See, I not only want God to provide; I want Him to provide in the way I want Him to provide.

And once again, I’m confronted with the fact that at some level, I am convinced that I know what is best for me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be so offended at the quality of God’s provision. Like a child who begs for a snack and then turns his nose up at the carrots put in front of me, I am impressed with God’s power but offended at His wisdom in exercising it.

The real question, then, is whether I believe in both His power and His wisdom – to not only provide, but to provide in the right way.

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