We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. (2 Corinthians 8:1-2 NRSV)
Although he had a job that provided a predictable income, Devon felt like he was always struggling to make ends meet. He felt imprisoned by expenses that siphoned off what would be his discretionary income. Now he was faced not only with that persistent sense of shortage but also with his church’s annual campaign and its catchy theme about generosity. Certainly, he wanted to commit and participate with others in the congregation to help the church afford its ministries. Yet, he felt embarrassed and angry at himself for not being able to give anything.
His sadness and guilt were intensified when the pastor spoke the passage above from 2 Corinthians on the first Sunday of the annual campaign. Despite the pastor’s analysis, those women in Macedonia must not have been as impoverished as they pretended to be, and certainly not as limited as he was. He remembered reading long ago the words of Anne Frank: “You can always—always—give something, even if it’s a simple act of kindness!”* But they’re not looking for kindness right now, he thought, as he reflected on her words.
As Devon was walking his dog that evening, it dawned on him that he was focused on himself, not on God or the provisions that God persistently makes for him. That’s how God expresses his love for me, he realized. The words from his pastor last Sunday included ones commonly attributed to the fourteenth-century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart: “And suddenly you know: it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” And so began Devon’s entry into prayer realizing that God was nudging him toward something new.
~Sanford D. Coon
When have you felt trapped by scarcity? Has abundance ever felt out of reach for you? How might grateful recognition of God’s persistent provisions be transformative toward generosity?
In prayerful mindfulness, identify three things right now for which you are grateful to God. Pause three more times through the course of today to practice this discipline. Continue it tomorrow and beyond and throughout any interval in which you feel limited by scarcity.
*Anne Frank, “Give!” in Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex: A Collection of Her Short Stories, Fables, and Lesser-Known Writings, ed. Gerrold van der Stroom and Susan Massotty, rev. ed. (New York: Bantam, 2003), 121.
From A Generous Life: 28 Days of Devotion. Copyright © 2019 Abingdon Press. All rights reserved.