God Will Deliver

God will deliver, but that doesn’t mean you should be lax in your own preparation for the future.

I watched the 1974 movie Where the Red Fern Grows over and over as a kid. The film was based on the 1961 children’s novel by Wilson Rawls. The plot centers around a young boy named Billy, who first saves his money and then buys and trains two Redbone Coonhounds. During an early scene in the movie, Billy complains to his grandfather that he doesn’t think God wants him to have any hound dogs because he has prayed and prayed for them but still doesn’t have them. The grandfather wisely replies, “Could be you ain’t doing your fair share.”

We know God has the power to bless and deliver anything to us, but God often wants us to do “our fair share.” Through the struggles involved, we grow and learn to be more like Him.

Preparation is essential even when you know the Lord ultimately will deliver you. God created us to work through preparation and process, so we are not lazy in our approach to ministry. He designed us to have the drive for and rewards of our work. We appreciate the things we work for more than the things handed to us.

What image comes to mind when someone says, “That child is spoiled”? The term spoiled is often associated with an unruly child who has been overindulged by parents or others. The individual who has never worked hard toward a goal cannot appreciate the satisfaction of positive results after hard work and focused effort.

I should be clear: this line of thought is not a nod to that old maxim, “God helps those who help themselves,” made famous by Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard in 1736. (Many find it surprising this catchy saying is not in the Bible). However, we do see biblical characters preparing themselves for the future, while at the same time trusting God for the outcome. For example, in 2 Chronicles 32:2-8, when King Hezekiah saw the Assyrian king Sennacherib bringing the fight to Jerusalem, he organized his people to dam up the springs, rebuild the walls, raise towers, and produce weapons and shields to fight Assyria. After all those things had been accomplished, Hezekiah also assured the people by reminding them the Lord was with them to fight their battles.

We must prepare for many things in our futures, from kids and school to vacations and retirement. Proverbs 6:6 instructs us to look to the ant, consider her ways (including food storage, community building, and ever-present hard work), and be wise. Too often, we fall into the “bailout” mentality prevalent in today’s culture. We want benefits and blessings without the effort and exhaustion that accompany hard work. As Billy’s grandfather told him, “God giving you the dogs won’t build you any character.”

Too often, we are more like young Billy, who replied, “I don’t want character; I want dogs!”

Yes, God will deliver, but it may not always be the delivery we prefer. God is continually working in our lives, and He wants us to plan, prepare, and participate in what He has for us. We know generally what will come in the future. Kids grow up. We age and retire from full-time work. Preparing for these things now puts us in a position to be used by God in the future. Because He has blessed our preparation, we can, in turn, be a blessing to others.

Preparing for the future is not easy. It requires thought, discipline, and hard work, but the Lord provides wisdom and strength to those who ask for it. What is our “fair share”? Set aside resources for the future and maintain our health daily, so we can enjoy and share the Lord’s blessings during the next stage of our walk here on earth.

This article was previously posted in the December 2023/January 2024 edition of ONE Magazine.