My mother always said, “God will provide,” but I can’t say that I always believed her. She usually said it the day my father got laid off from his job as a carpenter because winter had set in and there wasn’t enough work to go around, so he had to sign up for unemployment and drive down to the union hall every morning to see if there was anything he could do.
I’m sure St. Joseph understood the situation because he was a carpenter, and there were probably times in Egypt when he didn’t have enough work to support the Holy Family.
Did my father believe “God will provide,” as he sat at the kitchen table, with a bottle of Budweiser and a jigsaw puzzle laid out before him, passing the time in anxious worry about what tomorrow would bring … or wouldn’t bring?
If you ever lost a job and knew the fear of not knowing what tomorrow would bring, it can be hard accepting that “God will provide.” Sometimes God waits a little too long for my tastes before providing.
But my mother understood his mysterious ways better than we did. Truth be told, we never went hungry although God cut it close some of the time. She kept a dime taped to the bottom of the statue of the Infant of Prague, which they got as a wedding gift, because she had been told that was an assurance you would never go without.
Both my parents knew what it meant to go without because they lived through the Great Depression and went to bed hungry a lot of nights. My mother had to leave her family in Bridgeport and go live with her aunt in Stamford because her parents didn’t have enough money to support everyone. And my father was one of nine children raised by a widowed immigrant from Italy back before there was a safety net for the needy. They knew hunger and they knew cold … but so did Jesus.
During the Great Depression, I’ve been told, when you were down to your last dollar, it was a common practice to give it away because it ensured God would provide. Over the years, I’ve met people who did just that and swear it worked.
Sometimes you have to let go and let God and step out into the unknown. You have to have faith and a hopeful attitude. But trusting is never easy. It’s a virtue that is acquired from experience and prayer.
In her book “God Will Provide,” author Patricia Treece recounts miraculous stories about saints like Mother Teresa, Solanus Casey, Frances Xavier Cabrini and Padre Pio, who turned to God in trust when the chips were down … and he provided beyond their wildest expectations.
Of course, our idea of what God should provide is probably different from God’s. As long as things are going well, we can have a strong faith but when things start to get a little shaky and the going gets rough, we worry.
I even start to suffer anxiety when I look at my 401(K) statement and the accounts are headed in the wrong direction. You see, sometimes I confuse the assurance “God will provide” with the fantasy “God will make you rich.”
The Sisters of Life have a wonderful prayer called the “Litany of Trust.” It says in part:
“From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute
Deliver me Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependence on you,
Deliver me Jesus.
From anxiety about the future,
Deliver me Jesus…
That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on you,
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You always hear me and in Your goodness always respond to me,
Jesus I trust in you.”
Sometimes God waits before he provides in order to strengthen our trust.
Worrying about the future is part of the human condition, but it can cripple us spiritually. Jesus knew that and talked about it often. He meant for us to take him seriously when he said, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
God will provide.