I was reading Nehemiah today during my private prayer/study time and a verse jumped out at me and just resonated in my heart:
“You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna [food provided by God to the Israelites while they were in the desert] from their mouths, and You gave them water for their thirst. For forty years You sustained them in the desert, they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.” – Nehemiah 9:20-21
In Nehemiah 9:20-21 we are reminded how God sustained the Israelites for forty years in the desert. We need to really understand how much of a miracle this is – the desert is a place devoid of life, there’s very little (if any) water and food; and you can forget about shelter from the elements. There was no way for the Israelites to sustain themselves, they had to rely on God for all they needed – even guidance through the desert day and night. With God’s provision, they were able to survive in the desert and eventually make it into the land God promised. Could you imagine what would have happened if God has NOT sustained them in the desert?
This really touched and also convicted me. Being born in America, there are certain things we’re afforded that we take for granted. We have become so accustomed to expecting God to do big things – miracles, breakthroughs, healings, etc. – that we fail to see the blessings in God providing for us daily. Many times we fail to thank God for the things we have until we’re in danger of losing it. We complain about the old car we have, until we have to catch a bus. We complain about catching the bus…until we have to walk. We complain about walking…until we have no feet. You get the drift.
Imagine if in the next moment everything you have right now is gone. That computer or cell phone you’re reading this on – GONE. Your home – Bye! Car – See Ya! Clothes – what clothes? Money – HA! What if all you owned caught on fire right now and you were left with nothing? Then you lost your job? Oh and someone also stole your car and your insurance had lapsed? Unless you’re Christ Himself you’d probably be devastated! But praise God for His sustaining hand!
I’ve been in a position where I have lost large portions of my belongings – even once where I lost everything except one bag! That time in my life was difficult, but I recognize how losing those things has given me an appreciation for the “daily bread” our Father provides. So what you’ve been driving the same car for the last 10 years? So what you don’t live in a fancy house in the suburbs? So what you don’t wear the name brand labels or you don’t have a big screen TV and cable and internet and every gaming system known to man….SO WHAT?
We need to get to the place where we thank God for what we have and recognize the blessing in His sustaining hand. We shouldn’t have to lose things to appreciate them. Any one of us can turn on the news and see all the devastation in the world. The fact that we go out of our homes and return to them to rest without harm each day is a blessing (that we often take for granted). Sleeping overnight in our most vulnerable states and waking up without harm to our bodies, spirits or homes is a blessing! How many news reports of senseless violence, wrecks, disease, home invasions could have been you or your family/friends? We need to recognize and praise God for His sustaining hand! (Psalm 37:24, 54:4, 55:22; Isaiah 46:4)
I am not saying God will shield us from every possible pain and trial. Life has been infected with sin and as a result there are things in the world that cause us pain. Yet, there is a beauty in knowing the truth of the world we live in. When we recognize the world we live in is a tumultuous one in which pain is guaranteed, we have all the more reason to praise God for the sustaining moments where things are common, boring, and/or repetitive – you know the moments where things are just “nice”.
One could suggest this lack of gratitude for what we have is the result of the prosperity preaching movement. Many preachers are selling a”genie god” whose only goal is to fill our fleshly desires for wealth and notoriety. Which is absolutely not biblical…. We need to get back to preaching the truth of Christ, repentance and the good news of salvation, in Spirit and Truth with humility.
Notice, those who remained stubborn and filled with complaint in the desert died in the desert, in spite of God continuing to provide for them in the midst of their complaining they still refused to turn back and repent – so they died there (Deuteronomy 1:34-40). It was the children of those who failed that entered the promised land because they had a heart of thankfulness for God’s sustaining hand, grace, and His everlasting love (Psalm 147:6).
On Your Own:
If you’ve been in a place where you’ve failed to thank God for His sustaining hand, don’t be alarmed you’re not alone and it’s not to late. Start right now!
- Make a list of all the things you have that you would not want to lose right now and begin the thank God for them.
- Carry this list with you throughout the week and write things down as they come to you.
Moving into a place of gratitude is as simple as taking the time to pay attention to the million and one things God does each day that we’re used to – getting up in the morning, taking a hot shower, a warm cup of coffee, a coat to put on, getting out of a warm bed, etc – you get the drift.
We can ALL, ALWAYS find SOMETHING to be thankful for! And should you be in a place where you cannot find anything on your own and you’re reading this – thank God for His loving compassion, grace and patience as He sustains you through this period.