Yesterday, I was praying with someone about his lack of a job. My friend was laid off from his job of 26 years in February due to the economy and he's 61 years old. I prayed first, and then he prayed.* While he was praying, the Lord brought to mind a story I was told by my grandfather about his parents, my great grandparents from 1917. When I shared it with him, he said I should blog about it so here I am doing just that.
I come from a long line of very faithful pastors. They were not just faithful to their spouses and churches and God, but they had great faith in tough times, or what I call real faith:
My grandfather told me of a time that his parents had no money. They lived in a small rental house for free due to the goodwill of a local landlord. The gas stove had a meter on it, and if one were to feed it a dime, the gas would come on for enough time to cook a meal.
Because it was dinner time, everyone sat down at the table, set for a meal. Then, my great grandparents told my grandfather and my great uncle that it was time to bless the food that God would provide. Great Grandpa thanked God for providing the daily bread to sustain the family and then sat there quietly. Great Grandma then thanked God for a dime for the gas meter to cook the food and she then sat there quietly. My grandfather said he and his brother too prayed in faith, thinking food would magically appear on the table or on the stove! Grandpa said he cracked one eye open and shut repeatedly during the prayer time to see if God had put food on the table, but no food appeared.
Then, my great grandparents thanked God for the ability to fast and pray for lost souls and friends and relatives, who were also poor and hungry. Just as they were about to get up from the table and go to bed early so as to fight off the hunger pangs, there was a knock on the door.
When Great Grandpa opened the door, there stood a man with a cardboard box of groceries! He said he was a grocery store owner from the other side of town and always made a weekly delivery to a family down the street who was out of town and did not notify him. He said he was going back to his horse and buggy when a neighbor of the recipient saw him and said, "They're gone for at least a week, but the pastor a block down the way sure could use the food. His family is hungry."
When the grocer saw the gas metered stove, he gave my grandmother a dime with which to cook, which she did not ask for according to my grandfather.
As you can imagine, everyone was overjoyed and praise God for his provision. Then, it occurred to my grandmother that she did not have any source of fire with which to light the stove...
and in the corner of the box was a single match that must have fallen in "accidentally."
Folks, in these hard economic times, we must never forget that God will provide our daily needs. We won't get everything we want, but he will provide what we need and when we need it. But it requires real faith! My great grandparents could have whined and complained like Job, but they did not. They thanked God in advance for what he promises to do for all his children.
Now here's an interesting twist to telling you this story: my ministry, like so many other non-profit organizations today, is hurting financially. As I sat down to write this blog entry, I stopped to open an envelope which contained a large donation! It's enough to cover our immediate needs. Each day, Etna and I have been thanking God for provision for our daily bread, just like my ancestors.
*One thing I always request when someone approaches me for prayer is for them to pray aloud after or before I pray for them. If they refuse to pray, I challenge them to have enough faith and guts to voice a personal prayer in front of another believer. I have discovered that there is a direct correlation to answered prayer and the person asking for ministry praying aloud with me and in first person about the issue or request or challenge. If they refuse to pray, I encourage them to pray aloud when they are alone if they are scared to pray aloud with others and have bold faith to ask God for help.