So, don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matt. 6:31-33)
I must confess a love-hate relationship with this passage. I love the comfort these words can bring. They emphasize my value to the Father, his love and care for me.
What I don’t necessarily like are the words “He will give you everything you need.”
I am confident God will provide everything I need. That is not my fear. Instead, I am afraid God will not provide everything I want.
Tim Keller defines worry as not believing God will get it right. This resonates with me, because I think I know what needs to happen — complete with a happy outcome requiring very little pain or discomfort for me or those I love.
The truth is, I often don’t want what I need. I have a tendency to not trust God’s heart for me, but this bent has everything to do with my heart, not God’s. In his book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest, Edward T. Welch writes that “worry and fear are more about us than about the things outside us. They reveal what is valuable to us, and what is valuable to us in turn reveals our kingdom allegiances.”
I am prone to desire comfort more than I desire the transformation that needs to take place in my heart. My kingdom allegiance is to the kingdom of self. I want miraculous provision that doesn’t involve feeling lack or hurt. I want God to meet my needs in an exciting story of victory as he does for Elisha with horses and chariots of fire.
It is interesting to note that story takes place in Dothan, which also is where Joseph went to visit his brothers and was betrayed and sold into slavery. God’s presence, power, and work are in both events. In one it is easy to see, but in the other it is seen only in hindsight. One involves instant glorious rescue; the other also leads to a glorious rescue, but it takes place over time, with a lot of pain and growth in between.
When we find ourselves in difficulty or trial, it is easy to think we have been forgotten by God, especially if we feel others are getting Elisha victories and our present circumstances feel more like betrayal, slavery, loss, or unanswered cries from a pit.
The first words I shared from Welch are convicting, but he follows with this: “We also know that God is patient and compassionate with us, and he gives grace upon grace. Though alert to our divided allegiances, he persists in calling us away from fear and worry, persuades us of the beauty of the kingdom, and gives more than we can imagine. We would like to abolish anxieties quickly, but we are learning that God values strong foundations and gradual growth, and such foundations are established as we feed on him and his words. As we meditate on Scripture and make it our own, we should anticipate slow but steady change.”
Those words give me courage and hope. While I still prefer quick fixes to the sacred, slow-but-steady work of our Father, there is comfort in knowing that while He is aware of my heart struggles, He nevertheless persists and pursues. In our anxious and fearful moments, when we are tempted to question His faithfulness, He is yet fulfilling His redemptive promises.
Hear His call to the beauty of His kingdom. Feed on Him and His words. Trust Him to transform your life by transforming your heart. Receive the gift of His grace and presence in the process. You are more valuable than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. You are His beloved.
Published February 12, 2018