I had a whole city block wondering who died as I wailed uncontrollably unable to find any privacy. After failing to stem my tears at my desk this afternoon, I ran outside to call my mom. At first when she asked what was wrong I offered only an earful of sobs, sniffs, and barely-caught breaths. Embarrassed at the display, I covered my face with my scarf as people walked by. I struggled to get out, “I have wasted the last ten years of my life if all I am qualified for is an entry-level position.” Over the next hour I cried my makeup off and had to take out my contacts because of the saline buildup from my tears. 4:30 couldn’t come soon enough.
A few steps into my escape for the day these words joined my walk:
“But can he also give us bread? Can he also supply meat for his people?”
You see, like the Israelites, I, too, had forgotten about the Lord’s provision. I always marveled that mere days after their deliverance from Egypt they asked why the Lord brought them into the desert to die. Meanwhile, here I was, the same day he provided asking the the same.
After paying rent this month I had no money left for the week. I knew money would be tight because of Thanksgiving since I don’t get paid time off and lost two days’ wages. Despite having enough for food and transportation and payday being only a week away, the squeeze was wearing me down anyway.
The same day I paid rent, I came home and my roommate handed me a check that had come in the mail. Provision. Then, this morning before heading downstairs for house prayer (provision), I decided to open an envelope that had been sitting on my bookshelf for weeks. Another check. I had overpaid a bill months ago and had gotten a refund. Provision. My day began with these reminders that God provides.
Fast forward a few hours and I had an interview (provision). It went well enough that they invited me for a second interview later in the week (also provision). But as soon as it ended, my mood changed. Rather than feeling thankful or hopeful, I was sad. I felt like I had wasted the past decade and that capping off the past year and a half of looking for a job by getting an entry level position was tantamount to declaring professional bankruptcy. Even as I asked my roommates for prayer this morning that I would focus on being loved rather than being used and move past a utilitarian-based sense of worth (even if it is being used in ministry), the feeling of being under-utilized that arose during the interview wrecked me once it was over. Even the interviewer wondered how such a position made sense in light of my previous roles.
Just before the Israelites anger the Lord with their faithlessness, they confess, “True, he struck the rock, and water gushed out, streams flowed abundantly.” God responds by opening the doors of heaven and Psalms 78:25 says, “Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.”
I couldn’t help but laugh (and repent). I didn’t know what my bread of angels would look like but I remembered my morning and the water that gushed from the rock. The last thing I wanted to do—the last thing that made sense for me to do—was to ask if he brought me out to this desert to die. I thought back over my year to all the physical, emotional, and financial needs for which he’d already provided. I thought about how my delight in the law of the Lord bore fruit even in this season that has a way, in moments of blindness, of feeling desperately barren. It was time to end my tantrum and to watch for “a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea” bringing rain (1 Kings 18:44), to go wait for my bread.
Yes, it does now after so long seem a monumental thing to find a job, but God all the more monumental. Yes, I struggle to hope, but God intercepts my sadness with reminders of his marvelous works. It is good to remember that my feelings do not hold a candle to the peace, comfort, joy, and hope I’m promised. God’s hand is in far more than I can see and he is able to provide what I need when I need it. Indeed, he can also give us bread.