The lions may grow weak and hungry but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (NIV)
SO, I came across this verse one day. I was glad to read it at first sight. It was a promise I could hold onto. Since I am a believer, I will not lack any good thing! YAY!! I got excited. Another prosperity verse in the Bible. How exciting! But then I looked outside and saw my former neighbor who was now homeless. This lead me to think: “How can this verse be true when there are believers who are homeless or lack health insurance or mental health coverage? Aren’t those good things?” And “how can I even get excited that I am promised all this good stuff, when there are people I know who are suffering?”
My reasoning kicked in: there can be many factors in being / becoming homeless: Housing destroyed by fire or natural disaster, not paying rent or mortgage, drug use. Not many get help with temporary housing to assist getting back on their feet. But there are shelters and/ or family assistance. What about the people whose families turn them away for housing? There, too, can be many factors such as no room, a person’s lifestyle, restricted rules on occupancy. Yet that does not address what the scripture says that those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing,
OK! Let’s pull out Matthew Henry’s commentary:
To encourage us to fear God and seek Him, it is here promised that those that do (fear God and seek Him) so even in this wanting world, “shall want no good thing” (which in the Hebrew reads: They shall not want all good things).
Now that is a whole different take. To not want all good things!
Matthew Henry goes on to say: they shall so have all good things that they shall have no reason to complain of the want of any. As to things of the other world, they shall have grace sufficient for the support of the spiritual life (2 Corinthians 12:9, Psalm 84:11) and as to this life, they shall have what is necessary to the support of it from the hand of God as a Father he will feed them with food convenient. What further comforts they desire they shall have as far as Infinite Wisdom sees good, and what they want in one thing shall be made up in another. What God denies them He will give them grace to be content without and then they do not want it, (Deuteronomy 3:26). Paul had all and abundant, because he was content (Philippians 4:11, 18). Those that live by faith in God’s all sufficiency want nothing for in him they have enough. Those that trust in themselves will come up short but those who trust in the lord shall be fed.
It is not easy to be satisfied here in the United States. We live in a success-oriented culture that longs for more/ for better/ for newer. It’s about perspective though. Example: I live in a one- bedroom apartment out of a home split into 3 units. My adult son was very uncomfortable with living in poverty. The apartment needs a TON of repairs, paint, flooring. Do I WANT to live 2 blocks over in a nice stone house with three bedrooms, a half basement, and a garage? YES! Of course. Is it unreasonable to want such a thing – No. But this is what I can afford right now. And as I told my son—there are probably 40 Syrian refugees (or South American refugees now) that would all cram up in here and sleep back to back all over the place just to have shelter and running water, toilets, cooking elements, and a refrigerator. We have all those things. And for that I can be grateful. God inspired me to move to this town before my financial issues. My money stretches way farther here than in California where an apartment the same size would be almost 4X as much. Through my being here, God has provided me options for housing. Also, a couple years ago, I went through a 2-month period where I could not afford to buy groceries…but I never had to go a day without food. There were soup kitchens that provided a meal once a day almost every day and then extra could be taken home for the 2 days there was nothing open. And, again, I was grateful. Was it fun walking 3 miles in winter for a meal—NO. But that does not negate that God provided a way to eat.
Maybe it is easier to be grateful when at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. I am grateful to have what I have because the alternative would be awful. Sometimes in our culture we get whiny because we can’t get the best or newest as fast as other people who have it “better” than us. The Bible doesn’t promise us in this verse that we will have the newest shiniest toys available in our consumer society. Besides, the Bible was not written directed towards 21st century Americans only. What the Bible promises must work for all who read it—everywhere. That includes remote villages, war torn countries, people in true poverty in third world countries. This verse is NOT another prosperity promising verse. It is however, according to the Matthew Henry Commentary, a verse that implies we will be taken care of according to how God sees fit and He will give us the ability to be content with what we receive.
It is not wrong to work towards having nice things. It is wrong to not be grateful for that which we have and / or can access through help from someone else. Sometimes life throws us curve balls and we find ourselves in desperate situations. We fear we have no way out of our situation and back up on our feet. We may have to move to a new town, accept help from agencies and /or strangers, cut back, trade in, or even compare ourselves to those less fortunate here and abroad.
The Hebrew version is the best version of this verse. We will not want for all good things. We will have opportunities if we are willing to take them temporarily. With gratitude we can be content while working towards a better situation. We can focus on that which we do have. We don’t have to get caught up in greed and gratification in such a way that we are miserable, constantly feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. When we truly appreciate all that God provides for us (one way or another) we will feel blessed and content.
Until next time~