Our faith is not to rest in our own wisdom, management or planning, but in the power of God.
“…our sufficiency is from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)
Our pear tree often produces a bountiful crop. By the beginning of September each year, I collect around fifty large, sweet pears from the dewy grass each morning which fall overnight. Though delicious, the pears do not last more than a day or so. They are already ripe once they fall, so our family has to eat them, bake them or give them away daily to avoid waste! My freezer is full of pear crumble, my smoothies are extra delicious, and my friends, neighbours and hairdresser have been blessed with pear ‘everything’ this year!
The pears remind me of the manna, or “bread from heaven” that God provided to the Israelites on their journey to the promised land in Exodus 16: 1-36. The Israelites were instructed to go out every morning and gather a day’s portion for each member of their household, no more, no less. If anyone gathered more than needed or tried to save it until the following morning, it did not last and developed worms and a bad odour! If anyone gathered too little, there was no lack. Morning by morning, they gathered manna according to their needs, but when the sun grew hot, it melted away. Yet on the sixth day of the week, they gathered enough for the Sabbath and it did not go off. In disobedience to God’s instructions, some of the people did try to gather it on the seventh day only to find there was none. Day by day, step by step, God met their needs ensuring that what they had was sufficient for the day.
The story of the Israelites – and my pears – teaches us a number of truths!
Firstly, to be thankful for the gifts God provides and diligent in our work to use the gifts he has given, whether they are food related or otherwise. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
I would be a poor, unthankful steward of the pears God has given us, if I were to leave them to rot on the ground, or store them up in an attempt to keep them all for myself and not share with others! The Israelites, through trial and error, became good and thankful stewards of the manna they were given, diligently collecting it and feeding their families as they learned to obey God’s instructions for each day and the Sabbath which was to be kept free of work.
The Exodus account and my pear experiences also teach us to be content with enough. During the present time, as we continue to navigate the Covid pandemic, there may be a temptation to buy extra food or supplies and hoard a little just in case we have to go into lockdown again. But this is not God’s way and reflects a lack of trust in his provision and prevents others from having what they need (as we saw at the beginning of the pandemic.) When I first realized how huge our pear bounty was going to be, I selfishly earmarked them all for my favourite fruit crumble recipe which I planned to fill my freezer with! I soon realized that they were not meant only for our family and watched in dismay as the ones I had collected and tried to save for more than a day succumbed to their bruises and rotted quickly, therefore not blessing anyone! I was a poor steward to begin with!
Consider the words of Psalm 23, verses 1 and 5 where David says, “ The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want….You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Italics mine)
Those whose needs are met by the Lord are content. Like the psalmist, they do not want for anything. They feel no lack. In fact, their cup overflows. Our God is a generous God! 1 Timothy 6 says that he richly provides us with everything to enjoy. The book of Malachi describes how he will open the windows of heaven and pour down blessing until there is no more need!
The pear and manna stories also teach us to depend upon God for our needs. Once eaten, the Israelites had no manna in their tents for a quick snack attack or a late night sandwich! They went to bed at night trusting God to meet their needs for food the following day, knowing they had nothing and trusting that he would provide their daily bread. They were absolutely dependent on God which must have been both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Can you imagine how that level of dependence would feel? If my pears were all our family had to eat, I might well be a little anxious each day once the fruit was picked, on seeing the amount of fruit on the tree diminishing, but what a wonderful lesson in trust it would be to see God provide day after day! Jesus said, “… do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles strive after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
Our faith is not to rest in our own wisdom, management or planning, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5), because God supplies “every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
We also learn from these accounts that what God provides is sufficient for the day. God’s grace, help and provision is given when needed and is perfectly adequate. Whether it be food, financial help, wisdom, a word of scripture, encouragement or peace, he gives exactly what is needed during our moments of need. How many times has he given a word of peace to an anxious soul awaiting a surgery or test results, or a word of wisdom in the midst of prayer and intercession? I have known him give an unexpected gift of money from a stranger to help pay bills, free samples of soap and baby products in the mailbox when a single mother had none to bath her baby, and food parcels and hampers gifted to those in need, all of which were exactly enough, sufficient for the week, the day or the moment, because “our sufficiency is from God,” (2 Corinthians 3: 5) for “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
God’s grace and provision is sufficient. He knows our needs and we can trust him to meet them at the right time. We don’t need to stash our pears, hoard our manna or consume or collect more than we need. We don’t need to doubt God and live in fear and anxiety. Instead, live generously, trust God and use the gifts you have been given to serve others as a good steward, for this is Kingdom living and honouring to God.
I’ll leave you with another word from the psalmist:
“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25)
Prayer: Father, thank you that you know our needs even before we do and that you always provide in abundance. Help us to trust you with our needs, whatever they may be, and to be good stewards of your gifts, both material and spiritual, that we might live for your glory. Amen.