One of my near-death experiences taught me that God is a God who provides.
It was 4 in the morning, I was walking towards the bus stop when suddenly, strong arms grabbed me from behind. The next thing I knew, there was already a sharp knife on my neck. I heard a man’s voice saying, “Give me your bag or I’ll cut your throat!” To say I was shocked is an understatement. The only thought I had was, “I can’t die in the hands of this man!” The faces of my family flashed before me. I missed them so much. I was born and raised in a little village in Bohol. I decided to leave my hometown so I could get a job with a better pay in Manila, even though my parents were against it. They told me Manila is a dangerous city, they feared for my safety. And so, I knew my parents would be in great pain once they found out that their fear became a reality for me.
That day was my first day at work in Manila. My shift starts at 5am and so I needed to start walking to the bus stop at 4am. The only money I had was 1000 pesos, I would have to wait for my first pay before I could replenish my lodging and food allowance. But in that moment, the people I love mattered most. I just could not let my loved ones suffer from grief if I got killed on that day. So I gave my bag to the man, he took my wallet and threw my bag on the ground which I was grateful for because all my important IDs and documents were there. I touched my neck and felt relieved that I saw no blood. The next thing I thought of was how to get to my workplace. I did not want to miss my first day at work. I was so excited the night before that finally I got a job and had no idea my first day would be like a movie scene, but not the romantic scene I hoped for! I was hopeful that on my first day I would meet my prince charming, but oh my! I met a robber instead of a prince!
I searched for coins in the pockets of my jeans, I found some, but not enough for my bus fare. I turned my bag upside down and prayed for more coins. To my surprise, I was able to collect just enough to get to my workplace. When I got there, I was late, so I explained to my boss and colleagues what happened. They were all surprised that I still managed to go to work despite my dreadful experience. I joined the orientation and training as if nothing happened. Then lunch time came. I had no single penny and I was too shy to ask for food or money when I had just met everyone for the first time. My colleagues rushed outside, excited to go to the cafeteria while I remain seated on my chair, determined to pretend I wasn’t hungry but my empty stomach betrayed me. A lovely woman in her 50s who heard my growling stomach came to me and offered me food. I cried. She had no idea that had she not offered me her food; I would be hungry the whole day.
My next problem was my bus fare going back to my dorm. A colleague whose place was in the same area where I lived invited me to take the same bus and paid for my fare!
The next day, I was so afraid to walk alone in the dark alley where I was robbed, my knees were still trembling in fear. To my surprise, a couple living in the same dorm offered to accompany me to the bus stop. They did not leave until I got on the bus safely. I was so touched, they did not have to wake up at 4am, but they did for my sake. My meals and bus fares for the next 15 days before I received my first salary were provided by my colleagues. When I got my salary, I offered to pay them back, but they did not let me. I was so amazed at how God provided all of my needs.
This happened to me 10 years ago; however, it is still so vivid to me up to this day. Reflecting on the story of the poor widow from Zarephath brought this experience back:
“The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry, because no rain had fallen in the land. So the Lord said to Elijah: “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you.” He left and went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” She left to get it, and he called out after her, “Please bring along a bit of bread.” She answered, “As the Lord, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth. She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.” – 1 Kings 17:7-16
God’s generosity is limitless. Just as He provided for the widow who thought she would die with her son in nothingness, God can also provide for you, no matter how hopeless your situation may seem.
Upon reflection, I realized that the widow, though poor in material things, is very rich in kindness. Despite having next to nothing, she still shared the little she had with Elijah. Second, she trusted in God. She believed when Elijah told her, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” And so, what she believed came true. She never run out of flour and oil.
At times God allows us to experience having nothing so our hearts can lean on Him. He sometimes put people in our life who need help, even when we only have so little to give, to teach our hearts true compassion. So whatever you need right now, while you work hard for it, trust that God will provide.
Believe that God will meet all your needs when you lift up to Him all that you do, trusting in His loving, generous heart which never runs out of mercy. Like the poor widow, your jar of flour and jug of oil will never go empty.
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