You’ve chosen your school. Then you get your financial aid award letter. You look at the remaining amount you’ll have to pay after grants and scholarships, and you ask yourself, “How am I going to pay for this?”
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 is the promise that usually comes to mind first. We know that God’s promises are true, but the way God chooses to provide is not the way we think He will provide. Understanding this promise is very often a process, a process that strengthens our faith.
The first step in the process is to trust. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). When you trust someone, you have confidence in that person. When we trust God, we have confidence that He will never fail us. However, the second part of the verse is the key to the first. We cannot reason out how God will provide for our need. When we begin to resort to reason, we lose the supernatural perspective, the faith that is required to trust God.
The second step in the process is to “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). This is a choice. When we lean on our own understanding, we become anxious because how God works is not how we work. We figure out a plan, and we present it to God in prayer, and we begin to think it’s His plan. When it doesn’t work the way we think it should, we become anxious. We begin to wonder if God will keep His promise after all.
We sometimes forget in our focus on trusting, that Proverbs 3:6 does put some responsibility on us as well. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct Thy paths.” Our “ways” are the opportunities that God gives us to use the resources He provides. When God provided for the children of Israel in the wilderness, they still had to take action to receive His provision. With the manna that fell on the ground, they simply had to pick it up, but they had to make sure they picked up the amount that was needed only for that day. They couldn’t hoard or expect to find more later that day if they hadn’t picked up enough.
God’s provision for us doesn’t always come like manna from heaven. We would love for it too because that would make life much easier. But God sometimes gives provision through a job or extra hours on a job. This provision requires action on our part. It won’t just happen. Sometimes we have to wait for God’s provision. It doesn’t always come all at the same time. We would love to know before we even begin that all of the cost for college would be covered for that year, but rarely is that the case.
As we prepare and plan for college, sometimes God asks us to wait. When we ask for what we need and God does not give clear provision, sometimes that means it’s not time to go yet. God often had the Israelites just wait. At the Red Sea, I’m sure they wanted to have a plan of attack to resist the Egyptians, to find a way around the Red Sea. But Moses told the people to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Ex. 14:13). God’s plan isn’t always the usual plan—doing four years of college in four years or going to college right out of high school. Sometimes God changes the plan in ways we cannot control so that we must trust Him completely.
We cannot see the future, and we often think that if we could, life would be much easier. Our future to us is just a plan, a dream, an expectation. God sees the reality of it all. He wants us to trust Him in the reality of the present, planning for what we believe the future will hold, but knowing that He will direct our path.