With the economic forecast continuing as bleak as the wintry weather blanketing much of the country, it's hard not to feel anxious about one's own financial prospects, as well as those of our nation and world. There is, however, an example that can give us hope in times of shortage and lack.
Time and again, Christ Jesus defied conventional wisdom by turning completely and exclusively to his heavenly Father for all of his needs. The results were remarkable, from feeding multitudes with a few scant provisions to finding money for tax payment in a fish's mouth.
Through his example, Jesus taught his followers not to rely on human ways and means for their supply, but instead to rely wholeheartedly on God through prayer. A closer look at the Bible reveals a key ingredient to Jesus' prayers: gratitude.
When faced with a crowd of thousands who'd come a great distance to hear him speak and who needed nourishment – not a likely prospect given that the only food on hand was five loaves of bread and two small fish – Jesus' first thought was gratitude. He "took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down" (John 6:11). That gratitude for what they had, along with complete trust in God's provision, fed the crowds. And there were leftovers!
This example is still absolutely relevant. The same God to whom Jesus turned in time of need is now and always will be governing, tenderly caring for each of His precious children.
A college student proved this fact some years ago, during another period of economic downturn. Squeezed for funds, her parents couldn't help her pay for college. Scholarships, loans, and part-time jobs largely carried her through, but as her senior year approached, one of the loan sources dried up, and it didn't look as if she could finish.
Discouraged, she poured out her heart to a friend, who pointed her to a statement from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," where Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote, "The fountain can rise no higher than its source" (p. 18). The friend explained that it was this acknowledgment of his unlimited divine source, combined with gratitude, that underpinned Jesus' remarkable proofs of God's provision. If one's sense of provision is linked to a human source, this friend continued – be it a scholarship or bank account, an inheritance or stock portfolio – it is by definition limited, finite, and vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the economy. But following Jesus' example and seeing God as our unfailing, consistent divine source, lifts limitations, eliminates fear, and enables us to find security.
As the student pondered this concept over the next few days, and opened her thought to the allness and goodness of God, she began to see how natural it was to detach her well-being from human parents, employment, and arrangements, and instead turn in prayer to her divine Parent, whose care for her never faltered, never failed. As she glimpsed the logic of this truth, fear melted away. Even though outwardly her finances hadn't changed, inwardly she went about her classes and activities full of gratitude for the good she'd already received. She knew that God would provide a way for her to complete her education.
And in fact this proved to be the case, when a completely unexpected job came her way that fully covered her room and board for the following year. Also, she was offered summer employment at well above student wages, amply meeting her tuition needs.
As an adult, whenever the financial road has felt rocky or uncertain, she has recalled that milestone experience and the importance of identifying oneself as the child of God, the infinite source of unfailing good, instead of relying on material avenues for provision. As she's done this, her family's needs have been consistently met – and this same truth is available for everyone to understand and prove.