God provides for our needs.
Take a moment and let that soak in. Let yourself feel the weight of each word.
God. The creator of the universe. The Almighty. The One who was and is and is to come. Eternal. The King of kings and Lord of lords. Emmanuel.
Provides. Gives. Supplies. Equips.
For. In order to obtain. To gain. To acquire.
Our. Not just mine. Not just yours. But ours. All of us. Collectively.
Needs. Not our wants. Not the newest toy around. Not what we think we need, but our actual physical, human needs. Food, water, clothing, shelter.
This thought has been rolling around my head for weeks now. It started when I agreed to give a devotional at my church in conjunction with the offering and it hasn’t quite ended yet.
But it started with the thought of a boy. A boy in a story I’ve heard a thousand times while growing up in the church. A boy I hadn’t given a ton of thought to before.
The boy I’m thinking of? It’s the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus and, in turn, was part of feeding over five thousand people.
After this, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). 2 And a huge crowd was following Him because they saw the signs that He was performing by healing the sick. 3 So Jesus went up a mountain and sat down there with His disciples.
4 Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near. 5 Therefore, when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward Him, He asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?” 6 He asked this to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do.
7 Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.”
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish—but what are they for so many?”
10 Then Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”
There was plenty of grass in that place, so they sat down. The men numbered about 5,000. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were seated—so also with the fish, as much as they wanted.
12 When they were full, He told His disciples, “Collect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten.
I’m pretty sure he’s the coolest kid ever and I want to be like him when I grow up. This boy offered what most people would consider a need: his food. What thoughts must have been going through his head?
Did he wonder if his mom was going to be mad that he gave up his lunch she so lovingly packed? Did he think about all the times his mom told him he was eating her out of house and home? Were there any doubts lingering in the back of his mind? Maybe this isn’t such a good idea… Or, because he was a growing boy, did he shrug his shoulders thinking that those five loaves and two fish weren’t going to fill him up anyway?
The truth is, we don’t know. We don’t know what thoughts went through his head. But we know the outcome of his actions. We know that over five thousand people, including him, ate until they were full. It wasn’t that each person just got a little to eat. Each person, including that growing boy, ate until they were full. And there were leftovers.
In my experience, it’s pretty rare that growing boys leave enough food for leftovers so maybe that was a smaller miracle inside of the larger feeding the five thousand miracle.
But as I read this story over and over, and thought about this boy, and thought about how Jesus performed this miracle, I just had one thought: Jesus met the need for food in the boy who gave up his lunch.
And that thought made me squirm a little.
How often do I give up what I think I need or even what I know I need if Jesus asks for it? Do I trust him to still provide in those moments? Do I practice what I say I believe?
Too often that answer is no.
But while I was working through all of this and preparing to speak at church, God brought another passage to mind.
25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
It’s verses 31 through 33 that really jumped out at me.
Don’t worry about what you will eat. Don’t worry about having enough to drink. Stop being concerned about being clothed. These are the things that people who don’t believe in Jesus worry about. But your heavenly Father, the one who created heaven and earth, who knew you before time began, who chose to adopt you into his family, he knows that you need food and water and clothing. And when you seek him and his ways and are obedient to what he has called you to do, he will provide “these things.”
In this case you have to look back a few verses to figure out what “these” refers to.
The things that God knows we need, that he will provide when we seek him and his ways? Food, drink, clothing.
Now is he going to provide dinner at a five star restaurant? Maybe, but probably not.
Is he going to clothe you in the latest fashion trends, hot off the runway? My guess is no, but we serve an extravagant God so I won’t rule it out.
But here’s the thing. When we follow God and offer him what we think we need to use for his kingdom and his purposes, he provides for our needs. When we trust him, he comes through. Usually in ways we can’t even begin to think of or imagine because we serve a God who’s ways are beyond our comprehension and imagination.
This is an area I need to work on: trusting him with even the things I think I need.
But can I tell you, as scary as it can be to give up what I think I need, it’s also crazy exciting to think how God will use it. Who knows, maybe he’ll feed over five thousand people (including me) with a couple fish and a few loaves of bread.