Yesterday I ran into a friend who’s been unemployed for nine months. I smiled, politely and asked how he was doing. He looked at me as if to say, “Stupid question!” I suddenly felt as if I’d slapped a cancer patient on the back with, “Hey, what a great day!” Cancer is a good analogy. Talking with someone who is out of a job brings out the same bumbling ineptitude as talking with someone who is terminally ill. We really don’t know what to say, and anything we do say is probably wrong.
With nearly 10% of Americans idled, and out of work, there are probably a lot of awkward conversation moments out there. These are rough days, and many families are struggling. Even those of us with steady jobs have found our buying power greatly diminished. Someone I know hasn’t had a wage adjustment since 2001, meaning that her real income has actually declined around 50%. Time Magazine last week ran a cover story on unemployment and underemployment in America. They predict that even as the current recession eases, chronic job loss will continue for months and even years. This is something we’re going to have to get used to.
So, it’s not a stretch to say that every person on this forum is somehow affected by the current economic malaise, either directly or through someone close. What do we say when there’s no way to help, when our words seem like either foolish denial or uninvited advice?
One answer: we can pray, we can say words to God.
God does care about our provision. “The God who provides” is actually one of the Old Testament names for God. Giving is his nature. He has created us, and promises to supply all of our needs. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he promises that God, our Father knows our practical need for food and shelter and security even before we ask. And when we do he willingly answers. God is close to us at our point of most pressing need. (Matthew 6:25f). We never have to worry!
This week we will be talking about provision-prayer. It’s a real and tangible concern for almost all of us. So let’s put these promises to work even if we can’t put our hands to work!
“Our Father in heaven, you created everything and you provide the needs everything you own. We are your children. You tell us that when we have a need we should ask and keep on asking, and when we do we will receive our answer. (Matthew 7:7). Today we ask that you would meet the financial needs of those struggling to meet their obligations. This is not too much or too little to bring to you. We depend on your promises and we depend on you! Thank you head of time for meeting all of our needs, today.”