I’ve been studying the book of Nehemiah lately, and I just love it. I love this feeling: learning, questioning, stories, a rich and deep history with so much evidence of the Lord. It helps that Nehemiah is a total #baller. The dude up and left a swanky job at the palace to go rebuild a wall, and he stood up to his enemies, relied on God and those around him, and worked together with a group of Israelites to get the entire thing done in fifty-two days. I mean, don’t you just want to make a “based on a true story” sports movie about it?
Nehemiah 9 is a great way to understand the Israelites’ relationship with God without reading anything else in the Old Testament. Verse 33 sums it up perfectly: “In all that has happened to us [the Israelites], you [God] have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly.” The Israelites review their history with God, listing out His goodness and faithfulness and all the ways they’ve rebelled against him. It’s a powerful comeback of repentance. When I was studying it last week, verse 21 caught my eye:
“For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.”
-Nehemiah 9:21 NIV
This verse piqued my interest because I think it highlights two types of God’s provision.
- Giving us what we think we need. The Israelites’ clothes didn’t wear out during forty years of wandering in the desert. Sometimes, the Lord provides for our needs (physical or otherwise) like we expect Him to. The job offer comes through. We meet a new friend at exactly the right time. We find twenty dollars. Someone gives us an encouraging text when we’re feeling down. It seems like a miracle but we get the stuff we need to get through.
- Making us more able to handle it. The Israelites’ feet didn’t swell up throughout all that walking. Sometimes, the Lord doesn’t give us what we think we need. But when that happens, He gives us strength, peace, and whatever else to face it and to be okay with it.
In this season of life, I’m learning a lot about God’s provision. Sometimes, it looks like an acceptance letter. Sometimes, it looks like a financial aid letter. It’s exciting news about getting to sing at church or the perfect amount of time in study hall to finish the work I needed to get done before the next class. (Senioritis, y’all.) Other times, it looks like a small sense of reassurance when the acceptance letter or financial aid letter doesn’t look like what I want. It looks like unexpected confidence when I’m speaking in front of a crowd. It’s faith that, when things don’t turn out the way I would have picked, they are turning out exactly like He planned.
No matter what happens, the Lord gives us what we need. It may not be what we think we need. It may be something on the inside that helps us keep a good attitude and grateful spirit when He doesn’t give us what we think we need. But God does provide for all of our needs, even when we don’t feel like He is. It’s not our job to work for that provision; it’s our job to trust it. I am learning in the book of Nehemiah and in this final push of senior year how rich and glorious that provision is.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”