Twenty-eight smiles lit the room as an elegant woman placed a stuffed turkey on the table. It was the first time in five years that the entire family had been together for a holiday. The enormous table was laden with colorful casseroles, steaming homemade rolls, three kinds of meat, pies, cake, and of course, cranberry sauce.
“I am so glad that everyone is here,” the mother said, squeezing the hand of the soldier at her side. “I second that!” The large man at the far end of the table raised his glass in toast. “Here’s to having all four children and their families back under one roof. To Michael, back from Afghanistan. To Shelly, who finally got off bed rest to give me a grandson. To Molly and Ted, who are moving down the street. To my little Kristy, who’s cancer is finally in remission. To my beautiful wife, who made this fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. And most of all, to God, who has provided over and abundantly for us!”
“Here, here!” Chorused twenty-eight voices.
The grocery store was packed. The single mother cradled her son in one arm while fingering a can of coffee with the other. Glancing at the food stamps in her purse, she placed the can back on the shelf. The stamps were almost gone and the baby needed milk and rice cereal. Coffee was a luxury she could not afford.
She stood in the checkout line clutching her few items, trying not to look at the full buggies on either side. “God,” she prayed, “please help me. I need this food to last until the end of the month. You said in the Bible that you would provide—“and my God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’* Please take care of me and my baby.”
She pulled the car in front of her dilapidated apartment and immediately began to cry. On her doorstep sat two brown bags full of groceries. A can of Folgers coffee was sitting on top.
God had provided. Abundantly.
Roklaka tribe, Papua New Guinea:
It was Christmas Eve, a Banana Tree was decorated with homemade ornaments, but there were no gifts beneath its leafy branches. The father hung his head in despair as he gazed at his children snoring quietly on the dirt floor of their thatch hut. He had given up everything to follow the call of God. He left a two-story house and middle-income job to bring his family to minister to the tribes of New Guinea. He swiped at a tear; he had given up everything, which meant he had nothing to give his children.
Christmas morning dawned with the sound of airplane engines. That could only mean one thing—the tropical storm had cleared and the bush pilot made it through. The missionary children danced around the yellow aircraft as their father unloaded box after box of second-hand donations. Ragged teddy bears, scuffed shoes, and worn clothes.
The plane took off and the ecstatic girls ran inside to try on their new wardrobe, but their father called them back. “I had nothing to give you children for Christmas, but God has provided gifts in abundance. Let us thank Him.”
An emaciated woman crawled out of a cardboard lean-two, her lame foot making patterns in the dirt behind her. Trash littered the wide dirt road. The red dirt decorated everything: from Hindu temples to cardboard cities to the throngs of people wandering the streets.
She painfully sifted through the refuse piled near the sewers. A small brown boy urinated on her hand before darting off to beg from tourists. She carefully handled each piece of garbage, her sharp eyes missing nothing that might keep her alive for yet another day.
And then she found it. Gold, wrapped in a dingy strip of clothe: fifteen kernels of corn. Her gaunt face broke into a smile as she clambered back to the cardboard house. At the sound of her thumping walk, two shrunken girls appeared in the opening.
“I have found an abundance, we will live to see another day.”
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