Does God really supply our needs?

A Christian friend asked a question this week that is hard to answer.

We were studying Jesus’ words against worrying in Matthew 6:25-34 where Jesus promises that everyone who seeks the kingdom of God and his righteousness will receive the food and clothing he or she needs.

My friend’s question was: “What about Christians who are starving in Africa?”

This is a deep question.  Some believers undoubtedly die from starvation.  Does this cast Jesus’ promise into doubt?

And if this promise is in doubt, what about Jesus’ other promises?

Of course, this promise comes with a condition – we must seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness in order to have our needs satisfied.  But does that mean all believers who are starving are NOT seeking his kingdom?  Personally, I believe some fine Christians whose lives are wholly given to Jesus die of starvation.

But, I think the point of this passage is less about our physical needs and more about our life with God.  Jesus says as much in Matthew 6:25: “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”

We have all been given life and a body by God and the vital question is: How are we using them for the Lord?

As I think about this, I realize that no believer in history has lived a life without pain.  Even those most blessed by God went through times of suffering. 

Does that make Jesus’ promise in Matthew 6:33 a bit frivolous?  It sounds as if the promise applies to all our physical needs all the time.  And yet we know that for some people, their physical needs are not met.

I don’t think Jesus is being frivolous.  I think there is more behind these words than we see on the surface.

I believe Jesus is saying here: “God is the supplier of all things – including food and clothing.  You may think it is coming from your hand, but it is not.  So, stop fretting.  You will get what you need when you need it.”

The apostle Paul is a good example of someone who lives in this truth.  He says in Philippians 4:11-13 that God gives him strength to live in need and in plenty.  He is content because he knows that God is with him.  But Paul did not say that he expected God to ensure he would always have plenty to eat.

It may be that God will supply the food that a starving African needs right now.  It may be that for his good purposes, he will allow that person to die of starvation.  Suffering and death are part of life on earth.

It is hard for us in our comfortable world to accept that suffering and death can be used for good.  But the Bible is full of such instances.  Famine drove Jacob and his family to Egypt where they found plenty.  The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, preparing them for their inheritance in Canaan.  Stephen died by stoning, leading later to the powerful ministry of his persecutor, Paul.

In the meantime, did God give good things to Jacob before his family faced famine?  Yes, indeed.   And others who suffered certainly saw their needs met before they died.

In my eyes, Jesus’ promise is true.  We just need to look at it in the larger picture of God’s plan for us – a plan that is bigger than our needs at this very minute.

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