As we continue our consideration of the Christian virtue of gratitude, thinking about some of the basic evidences of grace that every Christian has to be thankful for, we come now to the matter of provision. We have already considered the need to be thankful for God’s creation and God’s love, but every Christian should also be thankful for how God provides for him or her. Paul wrote about this to the Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to” (Philippians 4:4–7).
Clearly, Paul wanted his readers to be thankful for God’s provision—and not only for what God had provided but also for what they anticipated he would provide. As they prayed for their needs, they should pray anticipating that God would graciously answer them and therefore pray “with thanksgiving.”
As we think about God’s provision for us, it is helpful to think in categories. David Owen suggests three broad categories of provision for which we should be thankful.
First, we should be thankful for God’s provision of bread for sustenance. Jesus told us to pray for the provision of our daily bread (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). “Bread” should be thought of as everything that is necessary to sustain life. To pray for daily bread is to pray within God’s revealed will and is therefore a prayer we can pray with great confidence.
Jesus himself modelled this attitude of thankfulness for daily bread. When he fed the five thousand, he took the loaves and the fish and “looked up to heaven and said a blessing” (Matthew 14:19) before he broke and distributed the bread. Adam Clarke notes that, in keeping with Jewish custom, Jesus was blessing not the bread but the giver of the bread. In other words, he offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the provision of the bread before he distributed it. John 6:11 explicitly states that he distributed after “he had given thanks.”
Second, we should be thankful for God’s provision of blood for our salvation. There is no greater cause for thanksgiving than the shed blood of Jesus. He gave his life so that we could be gifted with eternal life. For all eternity, our life will be sustained by his sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. At the cross, he provided everything we need to keep us for all eternity.
Jesus again modelled this attitude of thankfulness when he instituted the Communion meal. As he implemented the meal, he again broke the bread “after blessing” (Matthew 26:26–28). As we have seen, it was Jewish custom to bless the giver, not the gift. Jesus was teaching his disciples to bless God for the gift of salvation. He did not want his disciples to take God’s salvation for granted but was careful to teach them to give thanks for it.
Third, we should be thankful for God’s benefits for our sufficiency. David writes in Psalm 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation” (NKJV). God not only saves us, but daily grants us sufficient “benefits” for the day ahead. The picture here is a beautiful one: God’s benefits to his people are not scattered and scarce; he loads us with benefits every day. God liberally gives us everything we need for life and godliness. We can never complain that we lack what we need to live a life honouring to God. We are charged to never forget God’s benefits to us (Psalm 103:2) but to instead offer grateful thanksgiving and obedience to God for his benefits (Psalm 116:12–14).
As we think about everything that God provides for us—bread for our sustenance, blood for our salvation, and benefits for our sufficiency—we should respond in two ways.
First, we should give thanks for what we have. Take the time today to reflect on everything that God has given to you. Deliberately thank him for all his gifts. Don’t take anything for granted.
Second, we should be content with what we have. Our tendency is always to want more, as if God has not given us exactly what we need. Take the time today to consider what God has given you and what you really need to lead a life of godliness. If you lack anything, do not be anxious, but with thanksgiving make your request known to God. If you have what you need, then learn in all circumstances to be content.
Brothers and sisters, God promises to provide us with everything we need to life the life to which he has called us. Believe him. Thank him. And be content with what you have.