This week, Matt Fuller (Senior Minister of Christ Church Mayfair, and Co-Mission board member) shares some wisdom from Calvin on trusting God’s daily provision for us.
He will provide…our…daily bread
Last week, I read Calvin’s insights on the Lord’s Prayer (because a friend told me it would do me good). As Calvin is better at encouragement than me, I’ll share some of his thoughts with you. There’s lots which is delightful in there but the section which brought me up short was: ‘Give us our daily bread.’ To your great shock, I was struck by three things.
1. He will provide
Calvin writes: ‘Owing to some strange inequality, we feel more concern for the body than for the soul; many who can trust the latter to God still continue anxious about the former, still hesitate as to what they are to eat, as to how they are to be clothed and are in trepidation whenever their hands are not filled with corn and wine and oil (Psalm 4:8): so much more value do we set on this shadowy, fleeting life than on a blessed immortality.’
I was unsettled because I realised that I am more anxious for my daily needs than I am about my soul. My faith that Jesus will hold me fast and take me to Glory is generally pretty solid. My confidence that God will provide for my body is less certain. Now, why is that? As Calvin observes, it’s a ‘strange inequality’. If God has done the more difficult thing of rescuing me from judgment for sin, why would I doubt that he would provide for my daily needs?
To my disappointment, I realised that I didn’t really doubt God would provide for my needs, but rather that I was nervous he would not provide for my desires; that his view of what was best for me would not be as ‘wise’ as my own view of what was best.
But if the Lord has done the difficult thing of atoning for sin, he really can do the easier thing of providing bread. As Calvin puts it: ‘Our heavenly Father disdains not to take our body under his charge and protection, that he may exercise our faith in those minute matters.’
2. He calls it ‘ours’
It is a striking display of God’s kindness that he calls that to which we have no claim ‘ours’. Yes, we may well have worked hard to earn our daily bread, but it is to his blessing alone that all our labours owe their success.
3. Daily bread
Calvin writes: ‘The terms this day or daily lay a restraint on our immoderate desire of fleeting good.’ It is, of course, good to plan. But we do not pray, ‘Give us a week’s worth of daily bread or give us a year’s worth of income in the bank.’ We pray, ‘give us this day.’ It’s a helpful prayer which, as Calvin continues, ‘lays restraint on our immoderate desire of fleeting good – a desire which we are extremely apt to indulge to excess and from which other evils ensue.’ We ‘ask as much as our necessity requires and, as it were for each day, confiding that out heavenly Father, who gives us the supply of today, will not fail us tomorrow.’
Calvin encourages us that even if our cellars and granaries are full, we must still always ask for daily bread, for ‘we must feel assured that all substance is nothing, unless...he every hour portions it out and permits us to use it.’
He will provide…our…daily bread.
God will. He really will. So although I have many fears – about all the people who have left church and moved back overseas or out of London; about a large budget shortfall; and about what on earth the end of lockdown will look like – I am feeling my way towards a great confidence that God will provide. He disdains not to take our daily needs under his protection.