Monday, February 2, 2009

Scarcity and Faith

This morning, I find myself still thinking, in part because of several comments and questions, on the subject of scarcity. Scarcity means we have an inadequate supply or items or resources. We, as people of faith, buy into a theology of scarcity when we begin to believe that God will not and cannot supply our every need. It was the belief of the disciples when they had only a few fish and some bread to feed 5,000 people, and miraculously, Jesus provided more than enough.

Often our sense of scarcity comes not from a lack of God’s giving, but from our focus on the wrong things. Victor Frankl was one of the many Jews arrested by the Nazi’s. As a psychiatrist, he had written a manuscript and hidden his life’s work in the lining of his jacket. When he arrived at Auschwitz the manuscript was taken from the lining of his jacket along with all his other processions. Eventually, even his jacket and clothes were taken from him.

Frankl says, “I had to surrender my clothes and in turn inherited the worn out rages of an inmate who had been sent to the gas chamber. . . . Instead of the many pages of my manuscript, I found in the pocket of the newly acquired coat a single page torn out of a Hebrew prayer book, which contained the main Jewish prayer, Shema Yisrael.” The Shema reads, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one God. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

We want an abundance of what we think is important, valuable, and worthy. These are often things that have little real importance, value or worth. God has already poured out, many times over, everything that we need for life, for joy, for salvation, and for peace. We do not lack for anything except the faith to trust that indeed God will provide.

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