God provides

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Is it enough?

Exodus 16:4 NRSV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.
We know that God will provide — and actually God provided more than just bread. We may concentrate on the manna from heaven, however God also sent quail to the people of Israel. In the evening they had meat, and in the morning they had bread.
As a basic diet — that sounds pretty good to me. That is, until I think about the mechanics of how that would happen. See, I’m a terrible shot, and I can’t bring myself to kill anything, so I certainly wouldn’t end up with any quail on my own. Then when we get to gathering the bread, well, there’s only so much time that I can spend bent over picking up little pieces of things before I get tired. Depending on how small the bread is, I may not be able to pick much up.
So what seems to be good idea — that God provides what I need — it may not be so good for me after all.
When we look a little deeper, we begin to see something about the bread in particular.
Exodus 16:
Exodus 16:16 NRSV
This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’ ”
Now, if you’re like me in anyway, you’d be wondering how big an omer is. Maybe it is too big, and I can’t carry that much, or maybe it is too small and it won’t last me a whole day. There’s no real agreement on how big an omer is — maybe 1-2 litres. Well, even at the biggest then I could carry it, and it probably would help fill me up for a day.
So maybe God does provide — and maybe it is enough — or at least was enough.

Is it enough today?

How about now though? Is what God provides, still enough?
Let me start by saying that there are few people who I’ve met who wouldn’t take a little more if it were provided to them. However is what we’re provided with today enough?
In 1987 I was offered a job that paid $14,000 per year. I was 18, and living at home. More than a thousand dollars a month — well less than that after taxes — sounded like a pretty good deal. Today, that would be about $27,000 per year. $27,000 per year before taxes comes in at $22,000 per year, or $1,800 per month.
If I was on Ontario Works, the maximum benefit for a single person is $721. In 2015, the average rental cost of a bachelor apartment in Burlington was $824. Honestly, I couldn’t even afford the cost of an average apartment here if I was on Ontario Works as a single person. I’m sure I could find something — but it would be a struggle that’s for sure.
So I come back to … does God provide enough today?
Well, maybe God does — but Ontario Works? Maybe not.
Certainly I take home more than that — and I’ve got more expenses than a single person as well.

So what is enough?

We’ve got plenty of biblical stories about what is enough — and how God provides. The most famous one for us would have to be the miracle of the loaves and fishes:
Mark 6:42–44 NRSV
And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
Mark 6:
However you could also look at Jesus’ first miracle at a wedding in the same light:
John 2:1–11 NRSV
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Our God promises to provide enough?

What about when it doesn’t feel like enough?

Honestly, I think we’ve all had those moments — when whatever we’ve been given by God just doesn’t feel like enough.
That’s where community comes in. Some of us collect more, and some collect less. Some share more, and some share less.
On my door is a poster from the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. Their theme this year is “Live Generously”.
Our task as Christians is to live generously — to be the hands of God in the world — to show others that God does care for them — and provide for them through others — because honestly, that’s how God provided enough for us and continues to provide enough for us when we don’t have enough.
So this Thanksgiving weekend, we can give thanks for what we have, and give thanks for those who have given as God does to us, and for our ability to give to others as God would give to them. Then, we will all have enough and for that we give thanks.
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