I know I’ve written about it before, so I’ll make my mention of it here brief: in the town I grew up in, twice a year was dubbed “clean-up week” where people put everything and anything at the curb. My father educated me in the ways of being the careful garbage picker, a badge I proudly wear even to this very day. (Really. I just picked up a lovely Bombay desk set earlier this afternoon.) Additionally, I love building and creating things. So, when I was under the age of 13 and living at home, and being the educated youth that I was, I would scavenge piles of refuse for bike parts to build an entire bike.
A pedal here, a rim there, a wheel fork over there, and a seat post the next block over, I would search for various bicycle parts in an attempt to build an entire bike from all of them. Like a mad scientist drunk on his own power, I created life and from the ashes of garbage arose a Frankenstein bike, forged in my backyard. Believe it or not, it would actually work, and I could sell it for a small fee at my annual garage sale, but it was more than just the money. It was that I was able to take next to nothing and create something from it. Everything I needed, I had laying around me: I just had to take hold of it and use it.
Like a modern-day MacGyver (a show whose main message, apparently, is that we have all the resources we need around us, and that we just need to learn to draw upon them in order to succeed), I was using the materials available to me to accomplish want I wanted. God’s word sends a similar message, as seen in Philippians 4. In writing to the church, Paul lets them know that they have always been there for him whenever he needed them. Even when no one was reaching out to help him, the church of Philippi could always be counted upon. In return, Paul reassures the church that just the same way they met all of his needs, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (4.19). This message suggests that whatever it is we need in life, God provides it for us, as He knows what it is we need.
Now, there are several circumstantial lenses in which to examine this verse. The first is the most obvious: times of trouble. The implication is that when you are in trouble, God will always provide whatever it is you need in that time of difficulty. If we are Christ’s children and He is our father, then He will provide for us according to our needs, and we can rely on Him for provision. So, we can always count on Him when times are tough; He is the hope that will carry us through those times. Invoke His promises and repeat them often, and you will find comfort as well as resources. It might not be what you expect, but it will be what you need.
The second lens is just that, times of need (which is different than times of trouble). In times of need, times might be tough, but they don’t count as trouble. For example, I have an elderly dog who just turned sixteen. She is fairly blind, deaf, arthritic, and shows sign of dementia. The way our house is set up, our dog door empties out onto our deck, and the dogs go down three stairs to use the yard. Over the winter, our old dog decided she didn’t want to use the stairs anymore and stuck to the deck, which was fine, as it was then snow covered. However, now that the snow is melting, we don’t want her going to the bathroom on the hardwood. So, we decided that we needed a ramp for the stairs.
Without much money for materials (and not to mention a severe lack in carpentry skills), I racked my brain as to how to accomplish this feat of construction. It needed to be long enough and sturdy enough, thus just putting a piece of plywood down wouldn’t cut it. Little did I know, that this time of need would be supplied by God. I just had to open my eyes and look around me, as God had already given me everything I needed. Soon, I noticed that a climbing ramp to my son’s jungle gym, if turned upside down, would provide the perfect ramp. It was here all along. With a few twists of a screw driver, it was in place, and I didn’t need to buy or build anything. Much like my bike parts, everything I needed was right around me. I just needed to put it all to good use.
When we find ourselves in trouble or need, we can trust that God will provide for us, as He promises that He will. However, we have to remember that the way we view our needs and the way God views them may differ. It’s very easy to look at our respective situations and think that God has forgotten about us, as He doesn’t seem to be providing. However, there are one of two possibilities that may exist. Maybe, like the dog ramp, it’s there right in front of us, and we just don’t see it the way God sees it. Or maybe, if what we think we need is nowhere to be found, then it’s not what we truly need.
This week, as you look at your difficulties and troubles, first reassure yourself that He will provide. Then, try to see the situation not through our human eyes but through His kind, loving, empathetic, ethereal eyes. See your situation through Him and seek your answers in a different way. You may be looking for the wrong thing, or you may have your resources right in front of you. Either way, through Him, you will overcome. Amen.