Our water is only a frigid trickle right now and we’re having to wait on a plumber for longer than is comfortable. To give you some idea, we’re bathing with bottled water we sit by the fireplace and a pot we heat up on the stove, and we’re washing dishes and all other things in cold, trickling water. Not ideal but sometimes you just have to laugh at the adventures of life.
The other day, I found my thoughts spinning around the completely irrational fear that I’ll be left alone without water. This fear is unfounded because there are at least 25 people I could call right now who would probably drop everything to bring me water. But that’s not the point. I recalled the couple times in the last few years that I left the house forgetting my water bottle. I remember panicking but not really thinking much more about it because I was reunited with water shortly thereafter. It’s astounding to realize I’ve been without a bottle of water at my side day and night so few times. I wasn’t aware of how much a part of me this had become. My mouth does get unbearably dry due to Sjogren’s and I struggle to swallow food so it makes sense why water is so important to me. I thought this practice was fine for many years until a doctor finally pointed out that, no, this constant need for water is not normal.
The desperation behind needing water and the irrational fear of not having enough recently caused me to start examining my heart. I thought about contentment and Paul’s words, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13). I’ve struggled with contentment and understanding God’s provision. His provision doesn’t mesh in my mind with faith-filled people who starve, dehydrate, or freeze to death. I really wanted to understand so I got out of bed and landed on my knees asking for help.
I didn’t remember until after I’d wrestled with the question again that I already wrote a blog post on this very subject in 2018 entitled, “When God Doesn’t Provide.” Face-palm. It’s amazing how often God uses words from my own fingers to answer my questions. I think I understand better now, as much as we don’t like this, that God doesn’t promise to meet our physical needs here on earth. If He did, Paul wouldn’t have been hungry and Christians wouldn’t die. Instead, He promises to strengthen us when those needs are not met. If we’re open, He will give us enough grace to be content even in our physical lack, knowing there will be an eternity lacking nothing.
Fear signals underlying lies that have set up shop in our hearts so I asked God to show me what my believed lies were and I started listing them. It’s amazing how many lies poured out of me under one ‘simple’ fear of being thirsty. I have believed that contentment can only come when all physical needs are met, that prayers don’t matter because God still lets people die of physical needs, that God isn’t trustworthy, that He won’t give me all that I need in this life, that I’ll be left alone and thirsty with no way to get water, that I will be left alone in any trial, that God isn’t enough to walk me through trials, and that my physical needs are of utmost importance in this life. I was struck by how afraid I am of being left alone when I didn’t even realize that fear was there.
This list of lies being rooted out into the open that night was the most real-time example I’ve experienced of the quote from Susie Larson, “The storms reveal the lies we believe and the truths we need.” Thank God for this trial of water. It’s giving Him the opportunity to reveal a deep-seated lie I’ve been believing: that I have to be afraid to be left alone in my suffering. First of all, that can’t even come true because I’m never left alone. This fear has no foundation because God never leaves me. But it also revealed the lie that God isn’t enough to walk through a trial with me and that I need others to survive. God created us for community, yes, but He also created us to be complete in Him; to be a branch connected to Him. God’s presence and Jesus’ lifeblood flowing through me is more than enough for me to keep walking. My glaring fear of being overcome by thirst revealed a belief in my heart that underlies every fear I have: that I’ll be overcome by the thing I fear and won’t survive. Okay, maybe I won’t survive this life. Of course, we’re not meant to. But I will survive the next. If I’m overcome in this life, Jesus says I can still have peace because He HAS overcome this life (John 16:33). If I’m overcome here, I step right into the heavenly arms of Jesus there, so why fear?
That night I was also led to a greater awareness of the laser focus I’ve had on my physical self. Chronic illness has a tendency to draw attention to the temporary. I realized how much more I need to embrace the importance of my spiritual self and ask God to cause a radical shift in my focus. It’s amazing how much energy I have wasted on the temporary and I’m asking God to give me strength to fix my eyes more on the eternal. This strength, I believe, He has promised to provide.
God may not have provided water or healing for Jason and me immediately, things I really think we need. But what He is providing is an opportunity to understand contentment better, to lean into the difficult questions, to reveal the lies I didn’t even know I believed, lies that are behind some of my most significant doubts. He’s providing an opportunity to rid me of these doubts. Incredible. He cares far more about spiritual provision than physical and, when I really think about it, why wouldn’t He?
When I remembered my previous blog post and read it again, I realized that I’m cycling back through the same issues. I couldn’t decide whether to be disheartened or encouraged that God prepared me for this trial even back then. I think I’ve decided to be encouraged. Yes, I’m still cycling through the same doubts and struggles. BUT, this time I ran straight to God and the Scriptures. I genuinely wanted to understand and asked Him to show me. I want the contentment in hardship that Paul talks about. While last time the wrestling with God’s provision helped me understand His promises better, this time He actually implemented those promises in me by providing the opportunity to rid me of the lies and beliefs that have so long hindered my contentment. What a good, good God. Bringing these lies into the light where I can see them gives me the opportunity to fight them, refuting them with God’s truth. It also gives God the opportunity to pour in His healing where the lies have come out, soothing my fears and helping my lasting fruit grow without being choked by doubt.
Here’s the thing. God hasn’t provided in the way I wanted Him to. But He has provided in a way that is far more important to my eternal self and my current peace. Thanks be to Him.