Meriam Webster defines provision as:

a: the act or process of providing

b: the fact or state of being prepared beforehand

c: a measure taken beforehand to deal with a need or contingency

     Tests.  Love them or hate them, we all have gone through them, or suffered through them might be a more adequate term.  Especially if you are woefully unprepared for them.  If you know ahead of time that you are going to have a test, and you are smart, you prepare for them.  Study, quiz, and study more.  But what do you do if you don’t know ahead of time that you are going to have a test?  Well hopefully you have been paying attention enough that you stand a chance at doing okay.  And if you haven’t, well…good luck.

     Now there can be tests that come from all different types of things.  There can be tests you take in school.  Tests for jobs to see your qualifications.  You can even have a spouse test you.  There are also tests that you receive from God.  Whether it is Him testing you directly or allowing you to be tested by another, they are tests by God.  These are the ones you want to do well on.  There is one thing I know, if you fail a test, it will keep coming around until you get it right.  This is called growing as a believer and putting more trust in Him.  However humans have a difficult time with that, so we flunk our fair share of them.

      The thing to know is that during these tests, God is with you.  It may not feel like it, but He is.  A lot of times He will even provide what you need to see the test through if you just trust Him and give it to Him.  And when you need that provision, you will see it.  That is the hard part for us.  When you are walking through fire and getting burned, it is hard to continue on that path.  Our natural reaction is to get to our safe spot as fast as possible.  How many willingly stand in the fire and just say, “It is what it is, and I’m going to stay here and continue to take it.”?  Not many that I know of.  But if you trust in Him, even though there is fire all around you, He will be your relief.

     In Genesis, God commands His servant, Abraham to take his son Isaac up to a certain mountain and sacrifice the boy to Him.  Now right after that, the Bible says that Abraham rose early the next day and got to it.  Getting ready for the journey ahead.  There is something that the Bible doesn’t tell us though, what was going through Abraham’s mind after God told him that.  Now I don’t know about you, but I would have come back with a “Umm…dooooooooooo what?  I’m sorry God, I must have an ear wax build up or something, because I swear I just heard You tell me to sacrifice my son, the son of promise, to You on a mountain.”

     Now maybe Abraham had some thoughts along those lines, maybe he didn’t.  I do know that he had a special relationship with the Lord.  God spoke to him many times, changed his name from Abram to Abraham, changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, and gave them a son even though they were old, and she was barren.  He also exceedingly blessed them and was always with them.  Abraham even had God and two angels appear to him as men, outside his tent by the terebinth tree of Mamre. There, Abraham provided water for them to wash their feet and a meal.  Abraham recognized one of the three as God.  He even interceded for any righteous people in Sodom with God after the other two departed and went down into Sodom to see what was going on in that city.

So yes, Abraham had a special relationship with God.  But even then, after he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac, I would imagine he had to have some thoughts going through his mind.  A heavy heart at the very least.  But he did what God commanded and took Isaac and went to the mountain.  Now on the way up the mountain, Isaac started wondering where this sacrifice was.  He had been told by his father that they were going to the top and there they would offer a sacrifice to God.  But as far as he knew they had not brought an animal to offer up.  But Abraham told him that God would provide.  Okay, God will provide, gotcha.  They get to the top and not an animal in sight, but they build an altar anyway.  I would imagine that when Abraham bound Isaac, he started questioning even more and realizing that this wasn’t normal.  And by the time his father raised the knife over him, he was ready to say, “Forget it, I’ve had enough of this!  This isn’t funny anymore!”

     But what happened next, every Sunday school child knows.  An Angel of the LORD (Jesus) called to Abraham from heaven and told him to stop.  That He had seen his faith and knew that he feared Him.  And when Abraham lifted his eyes, a ram was caught up in the thicket.  God had provided the sacrifice.  God gave provision, or the “a” definition from Meriam Webster.  For all we know, that ram could have been there the whole time, and Abraham had not seen it.  He saw it when it was time to see it, once the test was finished.

     However, Abraham had also taken care of the “b and c” definitions of provision himself.  He had stayed close to God.  He had followed His ways and trusted.  He had seen all the many ways in which God blessed him.  He also had a measure of faith in God and knew that he needed to stay close and obey for God to provide for him and take care of him.  He knew this beforehand and was ready to obey when God told him to do something.

     Recently I had my own test.  Our A/C unit quit on us, in Texas, in the middle of summer, and left Mrs. Frog and I miserable for several days.  We were hot, tired, and stressed.  Lately we have had several big expenditures and were not looking to spend more than we had to for the time being, since we have a few more coming up.  But of course life being life, it likes to throw you a curve ball whenever it gets a chance.  And it definitely did with us.  We had no clue what was wrong and tried to tough it out as best we could but after trying to spend a night in 90+ degree heat, we broke down and bought a window unit for the bedroom, so we could at least try to get some sleep.  I don’t know if you have priced one of those things lately, but they aren’t cheap.  For one that would cool our master bedroom we shelled out over $300.  Not what we were wanting to drop, especially not knowing what the cost of the A/C repair would be, which could honestly be thousands if a new unit was needed.

     We have had our discussions here about tithing.  I do it, and usually give an offering above that.  But when I got paid on the 1st, I was busy and forgot to pay it.  Turns out I was super busy all week and forgot to pay it the whole week.  Then the A/C goes out, and we have to buy the window unit on top of that.  All weekend I had a voice going on in the back of my mind telling me to skip this tithe offering.  That God wouldn’t miss it, and that I had been faithful for so long, it could be done, and I could put that money towards the A/C repair.  The voice was quiet at first, but then it grew louder and louder as the days went by and the uncertainty grew.  By the time Sunday afternoon came around, it was all I heard when it was quiet.  Thankfully I have been in my Bible and had just read the story of Abraham and Isaac.  I had prepared some provision beforehand and was able to draw from the Word and take my stand.

     Mrs. Frog was out watering our fruit trees when I had had enough.  I stood up and yelled at the devil to go back to hell and take his lies and deceit with him.  He was not welcome in my house and I would not worry because God will provide.  I started walking around telling him over and over that God will provide.  Getting louder as I continued to say it.  He will provide a way and He will take care of us.  I will not hold this offering back, I will pay it and God will provide.  The voice fell silent.  I no longer heard it and when I got to work Monday morning, paying tithe was the first thing I did.

     God did provide.  Our repair went incredibly smooth and we were only out a couple hundred dollars.  Everything is back to normal and I praise Him once again for taking care of us.  God is a loving Father and is always there even if it doesn’t feel like it.  Even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you would like, or things happen in ways that are strange to you, He is there.  He will help you and He will be your refuge.  When tests and trials come, don’t think of how you can get out of it and get back to your comfort zone.  Instead think of how you can move closer to the Lord and let Him guide you.  One of the names of God is Jehovah-jireh or in Hebrew, Yahweh Yireh (Jehovah/Yahweh will provide).  And believe me, He comes by the name honestly.

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