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It may be that uncertainty can lead us to trust God’s provision, and in doing so we gain crucial skills for our Christian journey.

More trust….
bread web sizeIt is the scarcity of daily essential foodstuffs over the past few months, that has led me to return to and ponder these words from the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:11 & Luke 1:3. “Give us today our daily bread” has been especially poignant, as panic buying led to shortages of essential foods. When the usually abundant supermarket shelves, stripped bare cause many to begin panic buying, we as Christians are called to trust our God for his provision. This has meant practically trusting that the week I need flour, there will be some on the shelves and the time that my neighbour is struggling to find some essential provision, that God will enable me to help. I have been constantly amazed that each week, God has provided both practical and financial provision, often from unlikely sources. I wonder if you have found the same?

More recalling what God has done…
When in doubt, we only need look to scripture to see evidence of God’s practical provision, ranging from manna for the Israelites, food delivered by ravens for Elijah, and the flour and oil that did not run out for as long as it was needed. This “God with us” shows up in the pillar of fire and cloud to lead the Israelites, the sending of rain when needed, the gift of land and the protection from and defeat of enemies for God’s people.

"So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord."  (1 Kings 17:2-16)

We are to “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done…” (Psalm 105: 4-5)

Immanuel God shows up, in our practical everyday lives. We are to look to him for provision. He will not let us down. This does not mean to say that he will give us all we want. What we need and what we would like are two entirely separate things, but recalling characters in the Bible who have tried to provide for themselves when they thought that God was slow to act, can help me to realise that waiting faithfully is the better way, even if it is not easy.

"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77: 11-12)

What mighty deeds and miracles help you to trust more fully in God’s provision for you?

More wonder, more grateful…
hands lifted in wonder and lpraiseMany of our lives have changed since the pandemic and I have found myself grateful for so much that has previously been taken for granted. The wonder of the complexity of our world and its interconnectedness, the simplicity of touch and a shared meal, the extraordinary everyday of our lives. We have so much at our fingertips, yet so often take this God-given generous gift for granted. I’m sure that you can name your own wonders and join me in grateful thanks to our Creator God.

"Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare." Psalm 40:5

More questions…
I’m sure like me, the uncertainty and insecurity of the current times have left you with many questions.
question marksI would not want to brush over the negatives of what has happened. Many people have lost so much- family, loved ones, income, jobs, homes… I have days of deep sadness where I just can’t get my head around all that has happened and watching the news often doesn’t help at all. However, I’m comforted that many people in Scripture were full of questions, too, and able to vent their frustration and anger towards God, questioning what was happening in their life and times. We are not promised easy, rather a reassurance that God can work through all things and despite all things. His ways are beyond my understanding. (Isaiah 55:9), but I do know that on days when my hope is thin, that I can come to a God who cares for me and rest in the safety of his arms. Our Father God wants us to come openly and honestly before him, bringing our heavy questions and lay them with him at the foot of the cross. Perhaps we can all come to lay our tearful doubts and heavy loads with him.

More important things…
Many of us, over the last few months, have found that we need so much less than we previously thought. The global crisis has served to focus our minds on life’s essentials rather than the deceit of consumerist ideals or our own misguided patterns of living. The daily bread we had come to expect so nonchalantly, whether that be literal bread, or flour, the daily connection with others or the security of employment -was stripped away, and initially, we were all left floundering. Enforced isolation has meant that many of us have begun to question what is really important in our lives, and seen perhaps for the first time the shallowness of all that the world often encourages us to see as crucial to getting on in the world.

Globally, many have had to change a lifetime of accumulated patterns, habits, and lifestyles in the space of a few weeks. Consumer habits, daily timetables, weekly interactions, alongside many other systems and processes have all had to change quickly, through grave necessity. We have had to adapt... and quickly, but I wonder what our attitude to changing has been? Perhaps we have experienced resentment, anxiety, confusion, anger or conversely embraced the opportunity to change outdated ways of living?

Through the anxiety and uncertainty, I have tried to search for ways of living better, and seek opportunities to live more creatively, I hope. It’s the only way that I could cope, immersing myself in the positives of reading more, baking, stitching, discovering amazing local walks that I am ashamed to say that in 20 years of living here, I did not know. As we gradually return to a new normal, I do not want to lose this slower, simpler way of living and find myself worrying about re-joining the world as I knew it. I no longer want to live busy, live tired, live life rushing and missing the fabulous view along the way!
Perhaps like me, the pandemic has highlighted old or recent patterns of living that you either want to change, embrace, or ditch? What important things have you discovered in the restrictions placed upon you?

More connected communities…
hands togetherDuring this time, many have found that what they miss most is physical connection with others. Whether this be a gentle touch on the shoulder, a hand held, or a hug with someone we miss, we have all had to find new ways of connecting with each other. We have embraced technology to recreate some semblance of connectivity that we long for, and in doing so realised the importance of community. Local communities have worked together to care for the vulnerable, and kindness seems to have been more prevalent as we each attempt to negotiate being apart from those we care for and love; a response that is beneficial to both the giver and receiver. Paradoxically, the restrictions of being apart appears to have created a kinder world, in general…especially at the beginning of the global crisis, when kindness and care seemed to be all that many had to offer. My prayer is that as the world returns to a new normal, we can all continue to create connected communities around us, living out our faith in daily actions that, as Henri Nouwen said “make God present in the world”.

So, in experiencing less over the last few months, what have you gained in your life that is more?
More trust? More time? Increased gratefulness? Extra patience? Or something else, entirely?

The Lord does indeed provide all we need... enough for each day. We are asked to live in the present of each day, and trust God for each need, not looking beyond that to worry about what may be next. It isn’t easy, but we have the God who sees us, with us.
Over the last strange, uncertain months what have you found to be your “daily bread”? Has it surprised you?

I would love to hear! Do let me know…Bread of Life

Textile Reflections...
Pondering on God’s practical provision for us, during the pandemic, led me to stitch this textile art. The bread and wine, grain and grapes represent both physical food that God provides, and the exploration of the verse from Scripture: 
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, he who believes in me will never go thirsty.”
(John 6:35)
The earth is shown at the top right, to reflect God’s sacrifice and provision for us in sending His only Son to die for the sake of the world. The water drops depict the rain needed for crops to grow, the difficulties of life and the tears of God for his people. The rainbow threads portray the hope of God’s covenant promise and the simple hope of the world in displaying rainbow images throughout the global crisis. The water jar refers to the first miracle of Jesus, in creating water from wine, an indication of God at work to often provide the best in us, when we are empty with nothing left to give and have to totally rely on him.

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