By Rev. Angela C. Bosfield
There are several biblical passages, such as the story of the widow and the oil in Kings, where God’s provision comes in an amazing way; where great trust in God is displayed even when there is no immediate change of the situation, as in Mark’s story of the widow’s mite; where others are the means used by God to bring relief, as in the story of Dorcas and her gifts in Acts 9:36, and Peter with no silver or gold to give but speaks healing at the gate of the temple in Acts 3:6. My favourite one that is quite well known is Habbakuk’s words of trust and joy in the midst of his trouble.
Habbakuk 3: 17-19 NRSV
17 Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.
Just about all of us have known times of personal economic challenge as the world reels under the shock of the global recession and its far reaching implications. For some of us, our financial ordeals started a long time before this latest recession. In this respect, I see us as those who have been refined in the fire and are capable of a different level of ministry as long-term survivors.
We can attest to Habbukuk’s declaration of trust in God because we have known God’s faithfulness for ourselves and may have sung the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” with tears in our own eyes. The chorus is compelling:
“Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed thy hand hath provided; Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
In response to the words of this hymn, let us ask ourselves the following questions:
1) Just how much am I trusting God’s faithfulness during these challenging times?
2) How much am I exhibiting our faithfulness by responding to those in need?
3) Do I tell others how God has provided for me?
4) Do I withhold or hoard from others or do I freely give as I have freely received?
Even as we seek to respond to the challenges facing our people, let us prayerfully seek together for answers when it comes to the origins of our dilemma:
1) To what extent do our challenges as a people come from disobedience, greed, ingratitude, and from turning to other gods?
2) To what extent do they come from injustice?
3) To what extent do they come from our history of enslavement?
4) To what extent are our challenges determined by the shift from an agricultural based economy to that of tourism and light manufacturing?
5) To what extent is this a global challenge shared by all as a result of external forces beyond our control?
As a church, our mission is to restore and promote trust in God even as we seek to alleviate suffering through prayerful action with soup kitchens and other outreach ministries and educational seminars on empowerment and employment, budgeting and finance, co-operatives and other forms of wholesale shopping as a church or group.
These are critical times and we need to love God, our neighbour and ourselves.