“I don’t know how we’re going to feed all these people,” my sister said.
We stood in our parents’ kitchen, opening the fridge, pantry, and cabinets to take inventory of the ingredients on hand. It was the week of my mom’s funeral service, and more people than we’d originally anticipated were traveling to celebrate her and grieve with us.
My dad set food plans for the afternoon after her service. But as more and more people trickled into town––people we loved and wanted to see––more and more people were invited to our childhood home the night before. That meant more and more mouths to feed.
No one had expectations of a fancy dinner or that we’d cook a last-minute meal for 75 people. But in our family, people coming over meant feeding them. What’s a gathering without food?
My sister and I started to plot out how many trays of lasagna we would have to make, determined not to bother our grieving father with our preparations. But being worn out and grieving ourselves, we felt completely overwhelmed and unprepared. We’re going to be up all night cooking, we thought. After late nights, restless sleep, and a season of sorrow, the thought of that extra exhaustion nearly brought us to tears.
A day or two after my sister’s and my conversation, a close family friend called. Not knowing about our lasagna plans and culinary panic, they offered to have a full dinner catered, enough to feed every single person who came to our home that weekend. I cried––with relief and gratitude, dumbfounded by their generosity and God’s provision.But maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Maybe I shouldn’t have doubted that God would somehow take care of even these relatively mundane details. After all, that’s who he is: a God who provides for his people.
God Gives What We Need
Exodus 16 tells the story of the Israelites traveling through the desert. They had just seen God work miracles, delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh, parting the Red Sea, and providing water for them in the wilderness.
But despite Yahweh’s constant provision, their growling stomachs and aching bodies led them to grumble against Moses––and against God. They were hungry, and there wasn’t exactly a feast to be found in the middle of the desert.
God told Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God’” (Ex. 16:12). While they questioned God and complained against him, God yet again showed his grace and faithfulness.
In the evenings, God provided quail, and every morning (except on the Sabbath), manna covered the ground like frost. They didn’t expect birds and bread to show up in their camp, but God doesn’t always provide what we expect. He provides what we need. And this was provision straight from his hand, another daily miracle to remind them of who he was and what he did for them.
Some of the people still doubted. They tried to gather more than what they were supposed to. They daily saw supernatural provision but still wondered, “Will God provide again tomorrow?” So they tried to collect more than for only a day, disobeying the word of the LORD and failing to trust in the one true God.
I would have been one of those people. I like to plan and prepare. I constantly think about the worst case scenario, and I would have been skeptical that bread from heaven would show up again the next day.
God teaches those people––people like me who tend to disbelieve and distrust––a lesson. Scripture says, “And Moses said to them, ‘Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.’ But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them” (Ex. 16:19-20).
There’s nothing inherently wrong with planning and preparing. Often, that’s what’s required to be a good steward of what God’s given. But we’ve gotten it wrong when we trust our own preparation more than we trust our God. He does not need our backup plan.
The Israelites went on to eat manna for forty years (Ex. 16:35). For many of us, it might seem annoying to have to eat the same thing for that long. But I’m learning to see that it meant forty years of daily provision, forty years of daily miracles, forty years of daily being sustained in a desert wilderness by the one true God.
Provision always comes from the hand of God, whether that provision comes from what he’s enabled us to save up or if that provision comes day by day, without anything left over to save.
Sometimes it’s not what we expect. We may wish for something more, something we think is better. But as Exodus teaches us, Yahweh is the one true God. He hears our pleas, and he is the one who provides exactly what we need when we need it.
Trusting Him to Provide
I can still picture the huge aluminum catering trays, kept warm by the sternos underneath and set up on a long folding table in the entryway. It was the only place we could find to set up such an elaborate feast and still fit everyone in the rest of the house.
Person after person walked through our front door the weekend of my mom’s funeral, greeted by a feast far beyond what my siblings and I could have ever made. We filled plates, poured glasses of wine, grieved our loss––and at the same time celebrated the life of my mom and all that God had done.
I had grumbled, doubted, and questioned. But as I look back on that hard season, I can recount how time and time again, God gave us exactly––and often more––than we needed.
May we be people who listen to our God, who trust him to provide, and who then find satisfaction in his bountiful––and often unexpected––provision.
Pasta With Smoked Sausage, Cherry Tomatoes + Kale
YIELDS ABOUT 8 SERVINGS
Sometimes you may be the person God uses to provide for someone else. Like the friends who supplied food for my family and guests, we get to be conduits of God’s provision. This meal can be a way to do that. It’s hearty, makes enough for about eight people, and travels well if you want to drop it off to serve a friend, neighbor, or family member.
1 pound bowtie pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
1 medium diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound smoked turkey sausage, cut into ½-inch slices*
1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes
8 ounces chopped kale (remove any hard stems)
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
shaved parmesan (optional)
red pepper flakes (optional)
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving a ½ cup of the pasta water.
While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven set to medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Make sure you stir often to avoid burning the garlic.
Add the turkey sausage and cook for another couple minutes to brown the sausage. If the pot seems too dry, add another tablespoon or two of oil.
Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot. Cook until the tomatoes soften and pop. Stir in the kale, chicken stock, kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Simmer 2-3 minutes, until the kale wilts and the liquid reduces a bit.
Add the cooked pasta to the pot. Stir everything together, and cook for a few more minutes until all the ingredients are fully incorporated and the liquid reduces to your liking. Alternatively, if you need to add more liquid, add the reserved pasta water 2-3 tablespoons at a time. (Pasta water is best because it helps the sauce adhere to the pasta and adds additional flavor. Plain water will not achieve the same result!)
Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Parmesan shavings and red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
*You can use any type of sausage you like, but note that for this recipe, I used smoked turkey sausage that was fully cooked to begin with. If you use a different type of sausage that’s not fully cooked, be sure to adjust accordingly.
Sarah J. Hauser is a writer and speaker living in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and three kids. She shares biblical truth (and the occasional recipe) to nourish the soul. Sarah loves cooking but rarely follows a recipe exactly, and you can almost always find her with a cup of coffee in hand. Find her at sarahjhauser.com or on Instagram (@sarah.j.hauser), and don't miss her monthly newsletter.
8/25/2021 5:25:33 PM