God Does Provide
As law students around the country have started school again (in-person for many), and although there is great excitement about that, there are likely intermingled feelings of anxiety and worry—and even perhaps a loss of normalcy. Just from talking with various friends at HLS, I’ve heard how much more difficult the transition back to in-person has been for some. While it has been great for people to be in class, see friends, and meet new people, many are now living away from loved ones once again—a lifestyle that I’m sure many had gotten adjusted to. Still many others have come from difficult home environments, and while perhaps a new living environment may be welcome for some, it is still a transition that is not always easy. And regardless of your living situation, law school isn’t a walk in the park! For pretty much everyone, law school is challenging and at times even discouraging.
These feelings are not abnormal, and you’re not alone in feeling this way.
My favorite Scripture passage, and one I’ve found much comfort from, is Matthew 6:25–34:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
There is a profound admonition here and there is some important advice that unquestionably carried me through my time at law school—advice that continues to carry me through my life today. But first, I want to emphasis how not to interpret this passage. Jesus isn’t downplaying the reality of our material needs. He is not saying “your material needs are irrelevant or don’t matter; only the spiritual matters.” To read the passage this way would completely miss the fact that God cares deeply about our material needs (which, for students, I think encompasses our academic needs). This is evident throughout Scripture again and again. What He is saying is that our priorities matter immensely. Let’s break this passage down.
Jesus begins by encouraging the listener not to worry about physical needs by saying that life is more than those things. However, that doesn’t mean that those things aren’t important or needed. When He talks about the birds and the flowers, He doesn’t end his analysis after “they do not sow or reap” or “they do not labor or spin,” but goes on to say “God feeds them” and “God clothes them.” This is not a casual dismissal of material needs as irrelevant; rather, it is an acknowledgement that these things are important, but that they are simply not the most significant parts of life. He even says “your heavenly Father knows that you need [material things].” God cares about our physical needs—don’t confuse God’s priorities for apathy.
The second half of the passage speaks to precisely this concept. Jesus tells us that if we seek His kingdom and righteousness first, the things we need will be provided. Now, I don’t think that means that student loans will be instantly paid off or that we’ll get unlimited lunch if we go to church enough times or do enough pro bono work. But God really does provide for His servants—I’ve seen that countless times in the lives of others and for myself.
God often provides for His people through the body of Christ. When Harvard required students to move out of on-campus residences in March of last year because of the pandemic, one of the most encouraging parts of that experience was how my church (Aletheia – Cambridge) instantly stepped up and created a database of church members who offered to assist evicted students provide everything from food, to moving assistance, to temporary storage, and to even housing people who couldn’t easily go home for one reason or another. I was blessed by one such family—people I didn’t even know prior to living with them for a month and a half while school finished up. Now, I’m not under any delusion that every problem or need will always be met so quickly or easily. But I would be remiss not to realize how often I have seen those who focus on seeking God’s kingdom having their material needs met in unusual and unexpected ways. And the two greatest laws of the Kingdom of God, as Jesus describes in Matthew 22, are to love God with all your being, and to love your fellow human beings as yourself.
I think there is an unspoken message here, too, that is backed up by other commandments throughout Scripture: to be attentive to the needs of our fellow people. Because God uses the body of Christ to provide for the material needs of others, when we are enjoying times of stability, provision, and security, we as the Church are intended to be the instrument by which God feeds and clothes others. We should seek out opportunities to help those in need. (And we ought not forget that even those with few resources can contribute to that mission—like the old woman in Mark 12:44 who “gave . . . out of her poverty,” and the Macedonian churches in 2 Corinthians 8 who gave generously despite hard times!)
In high-stress environments like law school or a legal career, it really is easy to feel like every moment of free time goes to thinking about how we can meet our material needs—whether those be food or clothes, or even academic performance. But the promises of the Lord are good, and I think you may be surprised at how your needs are met when you make it a priority to spend time with Him, to love those around you, and to focus on serving God well in the work you do.
It’s something that, as Christians—and especially as Christian law students and lawyers—we will need to frequently remind ourselves (or be reminded) about. Focus on the work and responsibilities you have today. Show compassion and kindness to the people you’re around today. Trust Him for all your needs today. God isn’t apathetic; His chief concern is with our hearts, but He also cares deeply about our needs, spiritual and material. Seek first the Kingdom of God—and you may be surprised at the ways God shows up for you.