By Elizabeth Prata
It was a tough week in my little sphere. A lot of people are struggling, we’re all stretched thin. Prices are rising fast and I juggle and jiggle and juggle the budget again and again to adjust. I arrive home hot and tired. I’m waiting for the brutal Georgia August to slide into September cooler fall weather.
Since rents are rising too I need to watch every penny like a hawk. If I want to buy something, even if I need, it I have to ask, “Can it wait?” or “Do I really need it?” and if it can’t wait and I do need it, I have to ask “If I get this, what else can I do without?”
Just living these days takes a lot of mental energy and even more emotional energy. I get grumpy, I repent. I get irritable, I repent. I feel sorry for myself, I repent. And on and on the cycle goes. “Learning” to be content in every circumstance like Paul also takes energy. I love being alone, but sometimes living alone is hard. Every blessed thing that happens in my life has to be done by me. Checking oil in the car. Doing taxes. Eating- which involved making enough money to get groceries each month, loading and unloading the groceries, storing the groceries, cooking the meal from groceries. Not complaining, it’s just how it is when you live alone, which I do love.
It’s just the way it is these days.
So I arrived home Friday afternoon from school in the hundred degree heat, staggered across the parking lot exhausted bearing a couple of bags from the Dollar Store, one of them containing the night’s dinner: a can of refried beans, and what do I see on my doorstep table??
My friend the flower farmer had dropped off a large and beautiful bouquet. How that brightened my day! Awesome!
As I get to the mailbox what do I pull out? A surprise sent to me from my Amazon Wish List, a couple of black velvet pillow covers! From church friends, with a card saying they love me! How awesome is that?!
I adore velvet. I always have. Remember the 1970s? Velour central for fashion. I’m able to adjust my home decor a bit now that I do not have any cats. Velvet is just too much of a magnet for cat hair, especially black velvet (since one of my former cats had white fur). I am also looking forward to having a table top Christmas tree and setting out my holiday decor when the time comes. But meanwhile, velvet- this is how I feel about velvet:
I fire up my computer and check my bank balance. I am paid monthly and August is a long month. I grocery shop 3 or 4 times, about weekly or every 8-9 days. But there are 5 weeks in August. How far do I need to stretch my groceries, or do I have enough to squeak another grocery run? Do I need to stretch till midweek? WHAT? At my bank balance I see someone had sent me a donation thru PayPal, and there was also this strange ‘credit’ via Amazon I can’t figure out. But it’s enough for another small grocery run! Just enough and just in time.
There really is no need to be grumpy, irritable, or worried. The Lord provides. He provides financial means to live, He provides friends who care. He provided His word and the Holy Spirit to sustain me. I’m overcome with relief and gratitude.
I don’t write the above to elicit pity or worry from anyone. No. I mostly enjoy the mental challenge of making sure I shepherd the Lord’s provisions well. I make a game of budgeting and meeting my goals. It’s OK. I am not complaining. It’s just that I want to specifically show that the Lord provides and how He provides. His sustenance extends beyond what I can even imagine and is so creative. He uses other believers to offer help and encouragement. He builds His church so the local church family can also sustain each other. He makes weird credits appear.
The Lord’s provision is not only financial, but the care behind the Wish List gift and the dropped off flowers were so welcome. Here are some more ways the Lord provided on Friday at school, too: A staff member’s husband brought in a danish for everyone on the 2nd grade team. When I returned to my teacher’s classroom from assessing students elsewhere, there was a paper plate, fork, the treat, with a napkin covering it. How nice to be served something! As a person who lives alone, being served always makes a huge impact.
Another staff member’s husband brought in a bucket of Reese’s Cups, put them in the central lounge, and an email went out offering any to one and all. These ‘little things’ are so precious. Do you know HOW FAR it goes on a busy Friday after a long (COVID) week at school to be given free chocolate? A million dollar lottery ticket joy, that’s how far.
Look for the large provisions from the Lord, for He keeps His promises. Also rejoice in the little provisions too. Flowers, Reeses Cup, Danish, a timely donation, a surprise gift…all so wonderful!! They are from the Lord in His providence and care.
I’m sure I’m not the only one dealing with rising prices, stretched budget, work exhaustion, COVID weariness, and a tendency to irritability. Here are verses promising the Lord’s eye is upon us and He cares for us-
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will reject the craving of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:3).
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, (Ephesians 3:20).
And God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that, always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; (2 Corinthians 9:8).
And one more among many verses promising that He will sustain us: