A widely viewed online column recently advised readers to stock up on basic foods before prices get any higher. The author suggested that with interest rates low and commodity prices rising, groceries might even be a better investment option today than traditional bank accounts (WSJ.com/OnlineToday).
Certainly there's wisdom in keeping enough provisions to be prepared for unexpected difficulties. However, not everyone has the space to store 20-pound bags of flour or the means to purchase extra canned food.
But there's a deeper issue to consider. It has to do with what we're housing in our thoughts. As we load up the grocery cart, are we making a prudent purchasing decision or merely reacting fearfully to media coverage of world events?
Fear isn't an intelligent motivator, and if we let it influence us, we may end up making mistakes. Basing our actions on fear leaves God out of the reasoning process, and that inevitably starts us off in the wrong direction.
Beginning with God, on the other hand, enables us to affirm confidently that He will meet our needs, and leads to wiser actions. God is the center of all provision because He is the Creator and sustainer of all life. Everything, including food, oil, and other commodities, has a spiritual, God-derived basis. We already have what we need simply because God is continuously with us. This understanding is what we want to keep in our mental storehouse.
Mary Baker Eddy, Monitor founder, wrote: "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 307). She wasn't speaking against the purchase of additional necessities. In fact, she lived in a time when preserving food was essential and thrift was expected in most households. She was actually advocating a shift in thought – identifying ourselves as God's children, with our needs first met by our Father-Mother.
God's love for us is the foundation on which we can place our trust, so we can pray about world food cost and security. As we do, we find safety in the arms of our Protector. The Bible has many examples of this kind of protection. The book of Exodus is a great read about how God supplied the needs of the children of Israel as they journeyed to a better place. Among other things, they needed food and water. God helped every time. Often this provision came unexpectedly and against great human odds.
In another inspiring section of the Bible, Jesus faced a hungry multitude. He asked for God's blessing and was given more than enough bread and fish to share. There were even leftovers, and that portion was saved and valued as well (see Matthew 15, John 6).
In both of these situations, the people involved didn't have a big supply of nourishment with them when they stepped forward to follow God. Neither did the individual in charge. Food was provided, but the more meaningful lesson was that goodness comes from God who loves us and holds our hands through every challenge we face. Moses and Jesus showed the people with them, as well as people in need today, that when we put God first and lean on Him, we can find answers to our problems.
So, when considering stocking up on food, it's wise to see how we're filling our mental storehouses. Basing our actions on confidence in God instead of fear of the future enables us to behave prudently. With the knowledge of our innate security as God's children, we'll be wiser consumers and more responsible world citizens.