jehovah jireh (i)

Jehovah Jireh, my provider
His grace is sufficient for me
For me, for me!
Jehovah Jireh, my provider
His grace is sufficient for me.

So we used to sing when I was a youngster. Asserting our unwavering confidence in God’s abundant and timely provision in a jaunty, Ned Flandersish kind of way.

It’s easy enough to sing (I suppose) when you’re young and healthy and upper middle class. But it doesn’t take much life experience to put a dent in:

  • Jehovah Jireh? Yeah right! Hasn’t exactly provided on any of those jobs I’ve applied for … I just want to work. Not be stuck in limbo like this.
  • His grace is sufficient for me? Pull the other one! I never signed up to climb this mountain — or uproot that persistent character flaw, change such a deeply ingrained habit of feeling and acting. You’re asking too much, Lord!
  • My provider? Surely you’re joking! I could have done with some provision when my world — all my relationships, everything — cracked open and dissolved under the pressure of that mental illness…
  • God cares for me? Well … maybe. Although the prospect of going to church or reading the Bible doesn’t exactly send a shiver of excitement down my spine. Praying just feels like talking to the wall. And God seems so distant, right now.

In the face of life’s roller-coaster, how can we make such a confession? How can we believe in God’s providence? Are we destined to look as silly as Voltair’s hapless hero, Candide, who hurls his iron-clad confidence that ‘everything will turn out for the best in the best of all possible worlds’ into the teeth of ever more desperate and irretrievable situations?

For that matter, how could Abraham make the original confession of confidence in God’s provision (his yireh — ‘seeing to’ the lamb for the burnt offering) on that trek up mount Moriah under orders to sacrifice Isaac, the long-awaited son of the promise?

The Jerusalem Temple mound -- traditional speculation identifies it with Mount Moriah, where Abraham was supposed to sacrifice Isaac

The Jerusalem Temple mound. Traditional speculation identifies it with Mount Moriah.

It is here that we must begin as we probe the whys and wherefores of the oft-neglected doctrine of God’s providence.

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