I’ve been closely following the struggles of folks in the aftermath of the super-derecho storm that slammed the eastern United States last week. Compounding the disaster are massive power outages and a blistering heat wave. Grocery store shelves have been stripped bare, and gas stations have been unable to get gas or unable to pump it. In short, it’s been a miserable week for millions of people.
If there’s a silver lining to the massive disruption this storm has wreaked, it’s that the need for personal preparedness was underscored. There are various articles that highlight this. I believe everyone should be ready in what I call the Seven Core Areas of Preparedness: food, water, heat, lighting, sanitation, medical and protection.
And yet …
And yet there are some people who claim they don’t need to be prepared because “God will provide.” Despite my total belief in God’s mercy and providence, I confess I have no patience with those who refuse to lift a finger toward their own physical safety or survival on the grounds that the Almighty will supply them with whatever they need.
Usually this reference about God providing happens when the End Times are under discussion. Frankly I don’t know much about End Times and don’t care to, since we’re specifically told we won’t know the day or the hour. But I’ve actually heard some people say with a straight face that they have no need to prepare because “God will provide” or they’ll be raptured up before things get really hairy.
No offense, folks, but that’s about the stupidest contingency plan I’ve ever heard. The End Times aren’t here (yet), but super-derechos and wildfires and earthquakes and power outages and heat waves are. Disruptive natural phenomenon happen all the time. And it’s for these types of events that everyone must prepare according to their means and abilities.
J.G. Holland said, “God gives every bird its food but does not throw it into the nest.” Right now, God has blessed us with an abundance of goods and services in this country, but He isn’t throwing free groceries into our cart. Nor do any of us expect to open our kitchen cupboards in the morning and find them magically filled overnight by Divine providence. It’s up to us obtain those groceries, not God.
Or, as one reader of my blog put it, “I have told the ‘God will supply’ people not to show up on my doorstep when things get tough because ‘I’ am not their God.”
Nor is the government anyone’s god (despite its apparent claims to the contrary). If we look to the government to save us every time Mother Nature throws a nasty storm our way, then of course we’re not going to lift a finger to help ourselves. Why should we? “God” (I mean, the government) will provide, right?
It’s essential to place one’s trust in God, but to assume He will behave in accordance with our interpretation of what we want Him to do is foolish beyond belief. If you fold your hands and refuse to help yourself because of your sincere belief that God will give you full pantries when times get tough, then you’re slothful. It smacks of arrogance. You’re expecting Him to do the work he commands you to do.
I truly believe God expects us to prepare to meet the challenges inherent in life: natural disasters, terrorist attacks, economic downturns and other natural or manmade calamities. In addition to our physical preparedness, we all need spiritual preparedness for comfort, focus and protection.
But to do one without the other – to prepare our souls but not our earthly lives to meet physical challenges – is shortsighted and incomplete.
The Bible is absolutely chock-full of advice for a preparedness mindset, and it exhorts us not to be foolish, slothful, or ignorant. Everything from the stories of Noah or Joseph in Genesis, throughout Proverbs, up to and including Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins, urges people to be vigilant and to keep their lamps lit.
And yet there is a certain subclass of people who won’t do this because, after all, God will provide.
You can argue and bicker all you want. You can disagree with me and tell me my biblical understanding is poor (which it probably is). You can believe all the End Times prophecy until the cows come home – I really don’t care. But don’t use that as an excuse to refuse to prepare.
At this point I’ll make the critical distinction between those who can’t prepare and those who won’t.
There are those who unable to be prepared due to age, illness, disability, finances, or other factors. For those who can’t prepare due to any of these reasons, we must be ready to offer assistance as best we can. A significant part of a prepping lifestyle is mercy and charity, just as it should be a significant part of our walk with God. We must never forget the importance of treating our most vulnerable citizens with compassion.
But this compassion wanes when we encounter those who won’t prepare. These are people who have the means to put aside food and water, but refuse to believe such actions are advisable. Simply put, they are in denial that anything bad can ever happen to them. After all, God will provide.
Grocery and gas prices will continue to rise. Storms will hit, electricity will fail, wildfires will ravage, and the economy will continue to tank. But hey, feel free to fold your hands like the sluggard and do nothing to help you or your family through hard times. That’s your choice. Just don’t expect anyone else to come riding to the rescue.
God told you to help yourself and you didn’t listen. You expected Him to provide without your effort. Remember 1 Timothy 5:8: “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” And 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
There’s an old saying that goes, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.”
In light of last week’s reminder, perhaps those are wise words indeed.