One month before I was scheduled to leave my secure job and step into full-time ministry as a missionary, I found myself in a battle with God. I happened to be at a Bible school graduation when it went down. I didn’t know the person graduating; I was just tagging along with a friend. But at the start of the graduation, the founder of the Bible school stood up and asked 10 people in the room to consider donating $1,000 to the school. My heart sank. I knew I was supposed to be one of those people. So I did the spiritual thing. I jumped up and ran out of the building.
My friend followed me out, unsure why I had left so abruptly. He asked me what was wrong. I explained that I felt like I needed to be one of those people giving. The problem was, in preparation for leaving my great job and living off of donations on the mission field, I had set aside nearly $5,000 as a buffer. A buffer from what? Well, in all honesty, it was a buffer just in case God didn’t provide through supporters giving to the mission work.
After a little discussion with my friend I knew I needed to give the money. So I walked back in and made the donation. My safety net had been reduced by one-fifth. And then things got worse. The following week I received a letter from a friend asking for financial support for a mission trip. I felt like I was supposed to give another $1,000. I’ll never forget writing that check sitting in my nearly empty apartment. Why are you doing this to me, God?
Over the next few weeks my savings account was diminished to nearly zero — at the worst possible time. It was one of the scariest times in my life in terms of finances. But as I look back, I am absolutely convinced that my willingness to give when I was the one who was actually in need is what became a foundation for a lifetime of provision. That defining moment was a moment of faith.
When we give from our need, we show faith that God is our source. “And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith can’t be put to the test when you have everything under control or within your power. You don’t need faith when you have all the provision in front of you. Faith comes when you don’t know the outcome, but trust God’s goodness anyway.
Is it possible that God’s provision actually starts when you act in faith while you are still in need — when you show the kind of faith that is willing to be obedient, even when it doesn’t make sense and you give when you have nothing to give? This seems to be what got Jesus so excited about the woman who gave two copper coins. “She out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:4). That’s bold faith that get’s God’s attention.
When it comes time for God to take you to the next level, He will often place a test in front of you. I’ve found that, more often than not, the test will be directly correlated with what you put a lot of trust in — such as finances, influence or control. That test is an opportunity to show where our faith stands. Who or what do you really trust most?
This test will often appear as a sacrifice. But know this: You can’t sacrifice for God. He won’t let you. The moment you think you’ve made a sacrifice, the God of all abundance will open floodgates and bring the exact provision you need. God doesn’t always provide what we want, but He always provides what we need. Our faith in times of need speaks volumes about our faith in Him. And the great part is, His Word actually promises “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). I believe that reward is His provision, however He sees fit.
God’s provision begins when we exercise active, giving faith while we are still in need.
Joël Malm is an entrepreneur, communicator, and personal development coach. He has started everything from a business to a not-for-profit, and he even started a church. As founder of Summit Leaders, he uses outdoor adventure and personal coaching to help people find their calling and pursue a vision for their lives. He is the author of “Vision Map,” published by Moody Press. Read more from him at joelmalm.com.1