That God is our abundance is rooted in the essential and relational character of the Holy One we worship. Jesus himself said, “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
We clearly understand abundance in terms of plentiful or overly-sufficient supply. We all might need to learn how to live during lean times, but we surely appreciate a surplus!
Scripture seems clear enough that God will supply our needs, but he does so, not through a miserly calculus too often assumed, but with a Father’s wise, loving, and abundant generosity.
We remind ourselves of God’s abundance because we are prone to forget it. I remember as a child leveraging requests of my parents or grandmother with something like, “I’ll never ask you for anything else…ever again!” I was focused on my circumstances and my lack of whatever it was I wanted rather than on their essential and relationally loving character.
Sometimes the answer was yes. Sometimes it was no. When it was no I sometimes pouted for a while or, worse, wallowed in discontentment over not getting my way.
Discontentment has all too frequently plagued God’s people. The Old Testament book of Exodus sometimes says, “So the whole congregation of the children of Israel grumbled.” They grumbled that there wasn’t enough to eat, so God sent them “Manna.” Then they grumbled that there was only Manna. Later when Moses was sequestered before the Lord on Mt. Sinai, they grumbled that he had left them alone. So while God was delivering the very Ten Commandments, the people asked for an idol to worship. Later the prophet Samuel tells us that God’s children were discontent without an earthly king “like other nations.” God told Samuel that it was not the old prophet’s leadership being rejected, but God’s own sovereign role as king. The balance of the Old Testament sadly records Israel’s discontentment and disobedience over one matter or another, and the many opportunities they lost along the way to know – to really know – God’s loyal, steadfast, abundant ways.
Lest we judge them harshly, we too can remember God’s plea to his children in Psalm 81:
O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!
I would quickly subdue their enemies, and turn my hand against their adversaries.
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him;
and their time of judgement will be forever.
But I would feed you with the finest of wheat,
and with honey from the rock would I satisfy you.
A blessed Lent to each of you as together we reflect upon the abundant gift of God’s Son our Savior!