She stood outside my office door, looking forlorn, bedraggled and overwhelmed. I quickly ushered this dear octogenarian inside, out of the cold. I listened as five decades of heartache, verbal abuse and, most recently, realities of pornography addiction came tumbling out. Her husband’s refusal that morning to ever change was the final straw. So she had left, with only the clothes on her back, and found herself standing at my door.
Sally’s (not her real name) needs were numerous: food, clothes, prescription medication, housing, safety and insurance reinstatement. (Her husband had used the premiums to support his porn addiction). Even more, this faithful believer needed support, encouragement and strength to walk through the unimaginable. God’s promised provision that “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) formed the words of my prayer with her that morning.
While many of us may never find ourselves in Sally’s place, all of us recognize that deep heart-cry for our needs — financial, emotional, physical, relational or spiritual — to be met by the Lord. Walking alongside Sally this past month has reminded me of the practical ways God provides and has also demonstrated three actions we can take to move from need to provision. As we trust, seek and proclaim, we create opportunities for the Spirit to move and work.
We declare our lives are guided by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), yet the practical outworkings of this statement often fall short. What has God prompted you to do or say, to give or to go, and yet you do not because you are fearful of details yet undetermined? Trust requires us to focus not on the “how” but rather on the “Who.” While specifics may remain spurious, the God who calls — the One who provides, the Spirit in whom we place our trust — is not. While fear prevents us from fully trusting God, James 4:15 reminds us, “You ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”
If you struggle trusting God and saying, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey” (Exodus 24:7), remind yourself of God’s character and the ways He has faithfully responded when you have trusted in the past. Sometimes we reach a point, like Sally did, when we have no other choice but to trust, for the alternative is unacceptable or unthinkable. As we seek God’s provision for our needs, may we more readily trust, even — or especially — when it appears we can choose otherwise.
Independent, self-reliant Christians should be an oxymoron, yet too often this becomes the gold standard for a faith-filled life. Admitting needs and relying on God to meet those needs does not suggest weakness. Paul regularly faced hardships he was unable to endure in his own strength, and yet, Paul gave thanks that such desperation caused him to rely solely on God (2 Corinthians 1:8–11). God’s provision for our needs begins with a heart who seeks Him. Even the prophet Amos implored God’s people — whose needs resulted from their own sinfulness and injustice — to “seek the Lord and live” (Amos 5:6).
God gives good gifts to those who ask (Matthew 7:11), but it may be that our needs go unmet because we have not asked (James 4:2). Admittedly, seeking God’s provision requires not only humility but also often admitting our needs to others — something repeatedly and beautifully demonstrated by Sally.
If you had the opportunity to meet Sally, you would immediately be struck by her eagerness to proclaim God’s faithfulness and provision “right down to a pencil sharpener!” A joyful testimony has replaced her forlorn despair, and she is quick to ascribe gratitude to the Lord for the innumerable ways He has provided. To everyone who has encouraged, supported and responded to God’s opportunities to meet her needs, Sally’s proclamation uplifts and inspires. Her story of experiencing God’s provision provides encouragement for our own journeys of trusting and seeking the Lord, and thus contributes further to God’s future provision.
Proclaiming God’s works lies at the heart of the psalmist who declared, “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me” (Psalm 66:16) and Jesus’ instructions to the Gerasene man healed of demon possession to “return home and tell how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:26–39).
Kristen Marble is the lead pastor of Mars Hill Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis and an ordained elder. Go to kristenmarble.com for more of her writing.
1. What prevents you from fully trusting God? Might you dare to pray that God would place you into situations in which trusting Him is the only option?
2. In what ways have you succumbed to the unbiblical allure of independence, and how can you recommit to seeking God’s provision for your needs?
3. What shall you proclaim as you heed Jesus’ command to “return home and tell how much God has done for you”?2