I'm not shy about admitting it - finances have been touch and go for me pretty much my whole life. I've never been homeless, but I have been hungry, done without electricity, done without hot water, done without a telephone. Now that I'm married and have a family of my own, we've managed to provide a bit more for our kids than I had growing up, but most of the time, it does feel like we're barely squeaking by. Barely.
I've come to depend on the Lord a lot to see us through those rough patches, and the amazing thing is that He always does. He's never sent us ten thousand dollars in the mail or plopped a new house down in the middle of the lawn, but so many other things have come our way because others were prompted to help us. Secret Santas have brought us Christmas, good friends have brought us groceries, anonymous donors have paid bills for us, and in each case, we've known that it's the hand of the Lord, and always right on time.
As I've thought about this, the story of the Israelites comes to mind. They were told to go out into the wilderness and promised that they would have enough to eat. Each morning, a wafer-like food would appear on the ground outside their tents, and they were to gather what they needed for that day only. If they gathered more than what they needed, the excess would go bad. But the night before the Sabbath, they could gather twice as much so they wouldn't have to gather on their holy day.
I never thought much about this story while I was growing up, but as I pondered it the other day, the symbolism behind it suddenly came clear. Or maybe it's just the symbolism I was supposed to receive at the time, and someone else will learn an entirely different lesson. But what I took away was this - the Lord would like us to rely on Him in every thing, trusting that He will provide as it is right to do so. He gave the manna one day at a time, and each day, the Israelites had to trust that the manna would be there again. It was an exercise in faith that lasted the whole time they were in the wilderness.
This is how it's been many times with our finances. We might not have any idea how we're going to pay a bill until the day it's due, but then we're able to figure it out.
Another scripture that comes to mind is found in the Lord's Prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread." Note how it's not asking for shelves upon shelves of bread, but just enough for today. Enough will suffice.
And another scripture: "Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof." To me, this means, there's enough to worry about for today. Don't heap tomorrow's stuff on top of it.
Each of those scriptures stands as a reminder to me that we need to take it a day at a time and to focus on the here and now, doing the best we can, knowing that a step at a time, we'll have what we need. This isn't to say that we shouldn't have food storage or prepare for tomorrow - not at all. Instead, I think this means that we don't need to worry about tomorrow. We can prepare without worrying - that's the best way to go about it effectively, in my opinion.
Every day, I am grateful for the manna the Lord sends me. I'll try not to be greedy and take more than I need. And I know that as I trust Him to keep providing it, He always will. His hand is stretched out still.