Generally, we all like that phrase, “God provides.” When we find ourselves in a place of need, it’s great to be able to parrot that well-used phrase of comfort and encouragement, “God provides.”
But recently I have been teaching through the book of Jonah and noticed something new about a term in that story. The Hebrew word for “provide” is interesting. At its core it means to “weigh out” something. But it also carries the idea of enumerating or appointing on purpose. It means to intentionally prepare something. It is implying God’s sovereignty over good “stuff” and tough “stuff.”
In Jonah chapter 2, God provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah. In chapter 4, He provided a vine that would give Jonah some shade from the hot sun. In that same chapter, God also provided a worm that ate up that helpful vine. And in 4:8, God provided a hot east wind that bothered Jonah a great deal.
An argument can be made that two of those provisions were an encouragement to Jonah. The giant fish rescued him from drowning. And the vine offered him some much-needed shade.
On the other hand, God provided the nasty worm that ate up that cool shade and the hot wind certainly didn’t please Jonah either.
In all four cases, God was in control. As Chip Ingram once said, “There is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority.” God truly provides, but He provides according to His will, not ours.
In Ephesians chapter 2, we see that in His great love we are made alive, raised up and seated with Christ, receiving incomparable riches and grace. But in Isaiah 45:7 He declares “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster. I the Lord do all these things.”
Both are true. Both are provisions from a sovereign Lord.
So this week, if you find yourself nudged by a whale, temporarily cooled by a vine or suffering under a sweltering heat, take heart. In all instances of life, God is in control. He provides the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.
Or as Job stated, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).