Relying on God’s daily provision by Greg Leith
Before you begin reading, stop rushing for a moment; slow down, take a long slow deep breath and repeat this phrase from the Lord’s Prayer along with me…
“Give us this day… our daily bread”
I love the image that my friend Michael Belk planned and photographed of a business leader dressed in their suit, holding tightly to many weeks’ worth of bread that he had gathered in his arms. There he is, just like the lady I saw at the supermarket this morning, holding about 10 loaves of bread in her arms. The business leader looks very worried, but Jesus is actually smiling and almost laughing! Why?
I can’t help imagine that Jesus was thinking of some truths he inspired his apprentice Matthew to write down. Matthew was a no-nonsense business guy, a tax collector turned Apostle when he met and was mentored by Jesus.
He writes these words:
“That is why I say to you, don’t worry about living—wondering what you are going to eat or drink, or what you are going to wear. Surely life is more important than food, and the body more important than the clothes you wear. Look at the birds in the sky. They never sow nor reap nor store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you much more valuable to him than they are? ….“So don’t worry and don’t keep saying, ‘What shall we eat, what shall we drink or what shall we wear?! … your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart on the kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course. “Don’t worry at all then about tomorrow. Tomorrow can take care of itself! One day’s trouble is enough for one day.” ~Matthew 6:26-34, J.B. Phillips New Testament
As you know, you can only eat one serving of bread at a time, but human nature traps us into thinking we need a months’ worth of bread and 10 years of money stashed away in order to be able to take a deep breath and actually trust God. This Coronavirus or COVID-19 is causing us all to panic more than God wants us to.
The truth is, the Bible characters Paul and Joseph trusted God in prison even though they had absolutely nothing. I think Jesus knew that we would be overly concerned about the future.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus reminds us that first and foremost we are to acknowledge God—then we are to talk about our needs.
Let me ask you a question: do you trust God for today’s revenue that will come into your business? Do you trust him with your cash flow for today? Or do you want today’s bread and tomorrow’s?
But wait, there’s one more story I want to tell you. It’s about a leader, just like you. His name was Jehoshaphat. His story plays out almost 3,000 years ago… 850 years beforeChrist was born. He was the fourth king in the Kingdom of Judah, an Iron Age kingdom just south of the Kingdom of Israel. Jehoshaphat was a good and powerful king, a wealthy and esteemed king, and a leader who the Bible says was deeply committed to justice and the ways of the Lord. In short, he was a good leader, probably just like you are a good leader.
Basically, his company was the whole country and it was in great shape. His army had about a million troops. That’s a lot of people to manage! But something was coming to challenge him. Something that he could not plan for, just like you could not plan for COVID-19, no matter how good of a leader you are, no matter how prepared you were. Some things happen because we live in a broken world and in this case, broken means a rapidly moving disease.
So with Jehoshaphat, something happened he did not expect, something that actually caused him great fear. In fact, he was terrified. Terrified just like you might be right now as your revenue is lower, your China business is uncertain, your customer canceled the big meeting, your supply chain is in question, you’re not sure how people can get things done working from home, your customers can’t pay their invoices and your employees are nervous throughout the day wondering about what their life will be like when they get home.
After all, your job is to care about the whole person, even after five o’clock when they’re done working for you. This is a moment when even though there is no injection to cure the Coronavirus, the cure you can give as their leader is a hope injection that gives purpose, meaning, peace and calm for today and might even ensure that life will go on forever in heaven!
Well, let’s go back to Jehoshaphat. His problem was pretty big. A vast army of allied forces was marching against his country. Remember though, he employed one million soldiers! The facts were that maybe he could have been confident but he wasn’t. What did this leader do in the midst of his fear?
First, he begged the Lord for guidance, then he fasted, and finally he prayed. That’s what leaders who name the name of God should do when they face fear. Beg God for guidance, fast, pray.
Let’s listen in on his prayer.
Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord.
He prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!
“O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’ ~2 Chronicles 20: 5-9, NLT
He acknowledged God’s power, reminded God of His mighty works in the past, and he asked God to hear him and to rescue him.
I like how Jehoshaphat ended his prayer:
“O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” ~2 Chronicles 20: 12, NLT
Your company may be experiencing a revenue downturn or even no revenue at all. Your employees may be panicking, your banker may be calling, your cash may be shrinking, your receivables may not be coming in like you need them to.
Why not do what Jehoshaphat did? Let’s all ask God for guidance, let’s fast and let’s pray.
Your team members are looking to you for calm guidance in the midst of this crisis. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that faith in God allows us to exchange fear for hope, exchange panic for peace and for you to show them they can be calm in the midst of a crisis… yes, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
This is a time to use your leadership platform to draw the people God has entrusted to you closer to Him, closer to the ways of life that Jesus taught. We must live as people who have hope. Maybe you’ll even be privileged to show someone the real meaning and purpose of life.
So how many loaves of bread are you trying to hold onto right now?
Why not hold just what you need, encourage your team members to hold just what they need and together, let’s let God take care of tomorrow.