At the height of the pandemic, one of the most difficult items to find in America was toilet paper. From large box stores to small family grocery stores, toilet paper was scarce. And when a shipment did come in, stores had to limit buyers to just one package. As strange as it might seem, toilet paper represented peace of mind for consumers during a trying time. Even if a home already had one or two packages, it always helped to have one more because “you just never know.”
Americans, in particular, love to stockpile supplies. We want to be prepared for the worst. Whether another pandemic strikes, a natural disaster occurs, or “the end of the world” arrives, we believe our surplus of non-perishables will see us through. Having those items in and of themselves is not bad, but is our faith misplaced? Do we place more trust in items that might help us in the future or in the God of the universe who has promised He will care for His children?
Stockpiling items is just one small example of how we might misplace our trust and dependence. We also do this through co-dependency on other people, trusting in our careers, 401K, and security systems. Again, these are not bad things on their own and if used in correct ways, but does this pattern declare our trust in God or a false comfort and contentment found in man-made objects and systems. Throughout Scripture, God continually directs the hearts of His people back to Him for their daily needs. Only God can satisfy our every need—physical and spiritual.
How God Provided for the Israelites
One of the most well-known examples of God providing for the daily needs of His people is found in Exodus 16. In this chapter, the Israelites have left Egypt, and as they travel in the wilderness they begin to grumble that there is no food. In their physical discomfort, they preferred to return to their bondage in Egypt where there was plenty, instead of trusting God, who had already done great miracles to save them. Despite their complaints, God provided for them once again as He rained down manna each morning. The Israelites were only to gather what they needed for that day. If they gathered more than they needed, the manna would rot and stink. In this way, God taught the people an important lesson of dependence, trust, and worship to the only God who could fill their stomachs, but more importantly, their hearts.
God Provides for Our Physical and Spiritual Needs
God cares for the needs of His children. Jesus reminds us of this in Matthew 6:26 when He says, “Consider 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?” His care and provision of our needs might not always look like we want them to or be provided in the way we think, but He does provide according to His will. When we think about Jesus and His time on earth we remember that He had no place to call His own and only the clothes on His back. In Matthew 8:20, He says, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus completely depended on the Father to provide for His physical needs.
But more than physical needs, God provides for the spiritual needs of His children. God’s provision of the manna was meant to turn their hearts to Him in gratitude and worship. Followers of Christ are called to depend on God with each new day. In the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:11, Jesus provides us with an example as He prays, “Give us today our daily bread.” This daily bread is for both spiritual and physical needs. Jesus makes it clear that they are daily. With each new morning, we are called to seek the Lord to provide us with what we need for the day ahead. God alone knows what we will face with each passing day, and He equips us to face it in His strength. His faithfulness to His children abounds day after day and year after year.
When we read the account of the manna from heaven in Exodus 16, it is easy to breeze past verse 35 and miss the weight of the statement found there. But this verse tells us much about our steadfast God and how He never tires as He cares for His children. Exodus 16:35 says, “The Israelites ate manna for forty years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate manna until they reached the border of the land of Canaan.” For forty years, or 14,600 days, God provided manna for the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. But His provision did not stop there, the method simply changed as the people arrived to the Promised Land, which flowed with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8). God gave them exactly what they needed for as long as they needed it.
If you find yourself in a season where putting one foot in front of the other is all you can do, that is exactly where the Father wants you. Our hearts flourish when we depend on God because He is our portion. Total dependence on God is where we grow and trust that He will provide a way. It may not be the way we thought, but it is His way, which is always best. As you rise each morning, ask God to give you what you need for today. Of course, we can pray for things in the future, but as we approach each day we seek a fresh start filled with the Spirit to declare God’s faithfulness with our lives.
Additional Resources on How God Provides for Us:
The Lord's Prayer - The Daily Grace Co.
How Our Physical Needs Point Us to Jesus
Verse Cards for Seasons of Waiting
Seasons in the Word: A Collection of Bible Reading Plans