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Now Reading: Where is God’s Providence Right Now?
7 months ago
This pandemic has really messed up my plans. These first few months of married life were meant to be all fun date nights, weekend getaways, and gradually refilling of our savings account.
Instead, we’re cooped up indoors almost 24/7, Renée lost her job, and because we’re living in a country where we aren’t citizens, she doesn’t qualify for financial assistance from the government. Not the start to married life we envisioned.
Two weeks ago, when the dominoes first started falling, I found myself asking “God, where are you?”
Then I stopped. I wasn’t asking that question a year ago, when my employment was certain, I was able to go out for dinner whenever I wanted, and I had a healthy amount of savings. So why was I asking it now?
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that when I was asking “God, where are you?”, the question I was really asking was “God, why isn’t my life easier?”
But God doesn’t promise us easy. Jesus said it plainly, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mt 16:24). God doesn’t promise us easy. But He promises that he’ll be with us in the suffering. He promises to lead us every step of the way.
In the last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Exodus story, where God led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. Between those two destinations, the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert.
The desert was not what the Israelites had marched out of Egypt for. It wasn’t part of their 5-year-plan. But God had something greater in mind.
You can take the Israelite out of slavery, but you can’t take the slavery out of the Israelite. Within moments of arriving in the desert, the Israelites were already complaining “Why did we leave Egypt? We should go back to where we had food, and water, and shelter!”
Even though God had broken them free from their chains, inside the Israelites were still slaves. They’d been captive for so longer they couldn’t even consider an alternative. It was in the desert that God gradually broke the Israelites free from these internal chains.
In the midst of this pandemic, God is breaking a lot of people free from a different kind of slavery. Slavery to jobs they hated working; slavery to the hustle – finding their self-worth in how hard they work; slavery to a comfortable little life that God was never calling them to live.
The past two weeks have reminded me that God’s providence isn’t the promise of a steady income, a new car, or a comfortable life. It’s the promise that He will always be with us, even in the desert.
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To set the Israelites free, God went all out. He sent plagues down on Egypt and even parted the seas to ensure they escaped. Yet despite all the miracles that the Israelites had witnessed, moment they found themselves in the desert, they doubted God’s providence.
I’m not so different. Despite all the times I’ve seen God at work in my life, the minute things aren’t going my way, I start questioning. God, where are you? God, what happened to your providence? God, why is this happening to me?
In the Exodus story the desert was where God taught these broken ex-slaves to trust Him. They could no longer rely on the food given by their Egyptian masters, or the roofs over their heads. They had to rely on God.
God didn’t reveal his whole plan. He didn’t map out the route to the promised land and explain everything that would happen along the way. The Israelites had to trust Him one step at a time.
It feels like I’m on a similar journey. I don’t know what next week, next month, or next year is going to look like. But that uncertainty has been a powerful catalyst for teaching me to rely on God.
In my prayer, there has been a lot less “God, I want this” and a lot more “God, I need you.”
The Israelites didn’t get what they wanted in the desert. There was no daily breakfast buffet or portable shade sail to guard them from the sun. But God provided what they needed. Every morning, bread called “manna” would fall from heaven to sustain the Israelites for that day.
I’m not getting what I want right now. I want to be speaking in high schools, saving money, and going out for brunch on the weekend. But God’s providence is still at work.
As someone who usually travels for work, I’m getting to spend a lot of time at home with my new wife. Time where we’re learning how to love each other in the day-to-day of married life. Precious time.
The organisation I work for has wanted to reach more people via video and online content for years, but we’ve never had the time to develop those resources. Now we do, and we’ve got a whole lot of motivation to develop it fast.
I’ve gotten more social phone calls in the last week than in the whole of last year. I’m talking more with family and friends, and having raw, honest conversations I would have never had otherwise.
I’m learning that God’s providence is a lot bigger than the plans I’ve made. Even though it might be hard to trust Him, there is so much God wants to do in our lives during this pandemic.
No matter what you’re facing right now, stay hopeful. God’s got a proven track record of pulling His people through even the most challenging of circumstances.
Our God is a God who provides.