All three readings for the day give us a chance to reflect on God as provider and our responses to that provision. The verses from Hosea and the Psalm contain beautiful images of God’s care for us. We see images of God stooping to feed us, heal us, draw us in with bands of love, planting and protecting us and making us strong. The gospel story tells of Jesus’ promise that all that was needed would be provided on the road. The disciples were to trust in God’s provision through others, not in their own planning and storage capacity.
We also see in Hosea the way that we humans often respond to God’s awesome provision. We respond by putting our energy and trust in other things (sacrificing to Baals and burning incense to idols) and by failing to recognize how God has been our help (they did not know that I was their healer). Parents, teachers, and care-givers of all kinds can relate to the Lord’s frustration here. We know what it is like to work hard to create something for our children, students, or patients and then reap more whining than gratitude. Perhaps the verses from Hosea can remind us that this frustration comes with the territory. While we may prefer recognition and gratitude, they are not why we serve. If recognition and gratitude fail to materialize, it does not mean that our serving was in vain. We may pray with the verses that God will work through us so that our anger does not burn against those we serve when they fail to respond in the ways we would like.
After reading Hosea, the Psalm pleas to see the Lord’s face take on new meaning. While the Psalm begs for new help, it also acknowledges that God has been a faithful provider all along. In the light of Hosea, we may use the pleas to beg for fresh appreciation for all the ways that God and God’s people have nurtured and helped us. Perhaps we can make a point of taking time to thank God and at least one other person today for ways in which they have been our provider or healer. Gratitude strengthens us to put our trust in God more fully. It also strengthens our ability to witness. We are better able to acknowledge the ways that God works in our lives in our discussions with others.
The gospel reading illustrates how trust in God’s provision equips us for mission. The gospel story also reminds us of the lengths that God will go to provide all we need for our assignment. The gospel challenges me to recognize that God’s provision includes authority that I’m called to use responsibly. Provision of our physical needs is just the tip of the iceberg.
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