When I was a young child, one of my favorite Old Testament stories was how God fed the Israelites with manna as they wandered in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35). I wanted to be an Israelite, at least for a day, so I could get up in the morning, run out of my father’s tent and collect some manna in a basket.
Equally fascinating was the New Testament story of the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14). I identified with the young child who brought all he had — five loaves and two fishes — and was awed that Jesus had the power to multiply the boy’s meager amount of food to feed the crowds.
My friend Virginia had a similar experience in Papua New Guinea. Eighteen people had arrived at her home unexpectedly. They stayed for the evening to visit and pray. Everyone was hungry. She had little food in the house. She took rice and prepared one dish. She threw in everything she had — an egg, a radish, an onion.
It was delicious, but there was so little. The rice bowl was passed. Each person dipped in and the bowl continued being passed around the table. Her prayer was, “Lord, let the rice multiply because I know there is not enough!” Everyone ate. The rice bowl was passed around a second time. Everyone ate until they were full. It was truly the miracle of the multiplying rice.
Our God is like this. He is our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. In II Kings 4:42–44, a man brings Elisha 20 loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain. Elisha tells the man to feed the 100 men who were there. The man doubts, but Elisha repeats, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left’” (v. 43, ESV). And the men ate until they were full and there was food left over.
God’s provision was just as miraculous for the poor widow in II Kings 4:1–7. She had lost her husband and the creditors were coming to take her two children as slaves for debt payment. Elisha asks her what she has in her house and she replies, “I have one jar of oil.” Elisha tells her to borrow vessels from her neighbors and she borrows all that she can. From her one vessel of oil, she continues to pour oil, filling all the borrowed vessels. From the sale of the miraculous provision of oil, her children are saved from enslavement and her debt is paid.
Never doubt that God will provide for His children. Our Muslim friend from Africa had converted to Christianity. Out of necessity, he left his community as his family had disowned him and his employer had fired him for embracing Christianity. Exhausted and out of resources, he found himself starving and weak from hunger. On a scorching afternoon, he dropped to his knees and begged God, “Please . . . You know your servant is hungry. Please . . . provide food.” When he opened his eyes, he saw a woman walk out of her house, carrying a dish of food. She walked directly to him and gave to him a freshly prepared tajine.
God not only provides physical food for his children, but he provides spiritual nourishment as well. Another Muslim friend had been a leader in his local mosque, but continued to find emptiness as he continually feared whether or not he was good enough to earn his way to Paradise. He prayed one night, “Jesus, if you are real, reveal yourself to me.” In the night, Jesus came to him in a dream, just as he had prayed. When he woke up the next morning, He knew he had met Jesus, the Bread of Life, the spiritual nourishment for which he had hungered.
Indeed, our God hears our prayers, whether we are in Israel, the United States, Papua New Guinea or Africa, and He delights in providing for His children. Whether it is food, bills or questions of faith, go to God with your struggles. Invite Him to demonstrate in a tangible way who He is and His provisions for you as you come to know Him more deeply as your Jehovah Jireh, your Provider, remaining confident that “your God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 ESV).