Today I walked through Wegmans, which I believe is the greatest supermarket in the United States. I saw a clear case with a black mushroom in it called a Burgundy Truffle. Its price is $599.99 per pound. I looked around at all the food. Everything you can imagine and then some. There were fruits and vegetables of every kind and even a hundred different types of bottled water. Water! We understand what it is to be full. To eat until we can’t fit anything else in our stomachs. We are a blessed people.
This afternoon I was reading about the children of Israel. In Deuteronomy 8 they were entering a season of blessing and abundance. Their wilderness journey, the difficult trial of drought and hunger, had just ended. In this chapter God is telling them why they had to go through that hard time and what they were to learn from it:
It was to humble them.
They had pretty much nothing of value and had to rely on God for every basic need, such as food and water. They had the same clothes and shoes for who knows how long. Poverty humbles. And humbled hearts find it easy to turn to an all sufficient God.
It was to prove them.
It showed their character, determination, and strength. Or the lack of those things. And character or lack of character is meant to turn hearts to a righteous and perfect God.
It was to see whether they would keep God’s commandments.
He showed them the Father-child relationship and because of that they would understand how important it was to walk in his ways and to fear him. And living this out will turn hearts to a loving and fair Abba Father-God.
It was to give them the experience of true hunger so that they would understand their need for God.
They were to remember that when they were “filled up” with abundance, they must lift their hearts to God (Deut. 8:10,14). He warned them that if they turned from Him and forgot where their blessing came from, they would be destroyed. Understanding this turns hearts towards our Provider-God who does not share His glory.
God told the Israelites that they must never take credit for their blessings. He told them that it is God who blesses with wisdom and knowledge and the ability to work. It all comes from his hand (Deut. 8:17-18) Lastly, He said that if they decided, in their abundance, to forget Gods commandments then they would perish. He said it so clearly. “You will perish” (Deut. 8:19). Understanding this shows the grace and goodness of a holy God that gives what is needed.
I’ve watched so many people over the years. People in famine or in abundance, people in trial or in peace…people who know what Gods Word says about how to live life. And many chose to do things their own way and stray from God’s commandments: they choose to marry unbelievers and be unequally yoked, to choose sin, to grow prideful or hateful or unforgiving or bitter. God absolutely promises that those choices will lead to destruction – destruction of something or someone and the absence of His presence and blessing.
I remember the days when Matt and I were poor. We were young, newly-married college students and although we both worked, our tax statement showed our yearly income to be under $9000.00. Poverty level. As difficult as it was to go through, I am so thankful for that time. God did some pretty amazing things for us during that “drought and hunger” season. Our needs were always met and our faith grew strong. It definitely made us appreciative of what God did for us then… and now. Our trials throughout life are for the exact same reasons as the Israelites…to humble us, to prove us, to show us the importance of keeping his commandments, and to always remember where our blessings and strength comes from. From God and God alone.
Today’s reminder caused me to lift my heart high to God with thanksgiving and praise for all that He has done…in times of poverty and in times of blessing. In both of those seasons there is the potential to focus on self. But clearly, the answer is to focus on an all sufficient, loving, righteous and Holy God who we get the priviledge to call Father.
Psalm 121:2 My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
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~Colette & Melissa
Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Guilherme Jófili http://flickr.com/photos/gjofili/4337577836 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license