Gulf Ridge Park Baptist Church
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[#4] The Bible says in Philippians 4:19 that God will provide all your needs, but while a friend was doing missionary work in Haiti he saw true believers starving to death. How can this be explained?
A great question! First let's not take a text out of context. When we read the whole passage in context, we see Paul is speaking to the churches' about their responsibility to give and support those in need. In verse 4:12 Paul also says I know how to be abased (to be humbled or brought low), and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
(Yet in verse 19 he says what you quoted.) There is no contradiction here, Paul is referring to the responsibility of the church to meet needs of its members.
In the early church (Acts) we see that suffering and persecution happened to these new Christians. It was not uncommon for communities and families to expel citizens and family members when they became Christians. They were kicked out of jobs, homes, even their communities. The church saw this great need. New Christians banded together to help those who were hungry and homeless. Read Acts 2:44-45; 4:32 says "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common." Vs 34 "Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds (money) of the things that were sold, and laid them at the Apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need."
Some unlearned folks say this is an example of communism at work. Wrong! communism doesn't ask for what you might give, this system takes it as their own whether or not you wanted to give it.
In the previous examples, the people gave to help meet the needs of others because they cared and loved the hurting, homeless, and hungry. No one made them do anything, they gave to meet the needs of others, and wanted to glorify God for all He had given to them.
We don't see much of that anymore do we? God has given America so much. The poor in our country would be seen as wealthy in some other countries (Haiti?)
So, the answer is, God provides for His people so they also might help with the needs of others in the family of God less fortunate than they.
I remember a testimony of someone who said they were praying one day for God to meet the needs of this poor individual in their church who had no money. He said God immediately answered that prayer by saying to him, "Put your hand in your wallet and go help them yourself...YOU are the answer to that prayer." (I quote from memory).
See, I feel your hurt for the poor, hungry people in these countries. I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord how He might use you to help meet their needs. He provides for us in order that we might be a blessing to others. Now that's where that verse in 4:19 comes in, as we give out of our resources to help others, God gives to us out of His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. One can never out give God my friend, and when we do give, we experience great joy and peace!