Daily bread

“Can you give me some money for food?” the grey-haired woman asked as we walked toward the restaurant doors.

“No, but you may join us for lunch,” my husband said.

She did and then asked if we would buy cereal and milk for her breakfast. Once the cart held breakfast foods, she asked for medicine. My husband allowed her to add over a couple over the counter medicines.

“Can I have a bit of perfume?” she whispered to me.

“We need to check out and head home,” I said.

Some people plead for daily bread and their wants. Others spent provided funds on their wants, see the empty cupboards and beg for their needs.

Occasionally God provides daily bread as He did in Genesis in the story of Joseph. All of Egypt and all of Joseph’s family had daily bread through the seven years of famine. They had it because Joseph, the former slave gave God’s interpretation of a dream and advised Pharaoh to save food during the promised seven years of plenty in anticipation of the seven years of famine. Joseph directed the building of warehouses, the collection of the yearly, heavy tax on grain and monitored the distribution during the famine.

Then as now, the daily bread involves work. The wandering Israelites enjoyed free food every day for 40 years – if they went out early every morning and picked up enough of the manna for the day. They could not gather it after a leisurely morning of sleeping. The manna disappeared under the heat of the day. They could not save it from one day to the next. It would spoil overnight, except on the sixth day when they gathered twice as much to have fresh on the seventh day of rest.

Same thing for Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Every day until the drought ended, she took the bit of flour and oil that miraculously remained every day and made biscuits for Elijah, her son and herself. She had to mix the dough and cook it. The biscuits did not simply appear.

The answer to the prayer “Give us this day our daily bread” often comes through a job. Our prayer in that case implies a request for the energy to do the work necessary to earn enough for the bread.

A former Bible School student watched in astonishment as his friend had funds sent or given to him time and again just as he needed it. “I never got any checks. I was offered jobs,” he said. He sounded jealous. He did not acknowledge that God had provided him with a job to meet his needs as God does for most people.

The widow’s job was to faithfully go to the kitchen every day, scrap the barrel, shake out the last drop of oil and make the bread.

Jesus taught His disciples, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Then He even proved that God could do that by multiplying a few loaves of bread to feed thousands. Afterward, however, He refused to repeat the miracle even though hundred followed Him hoping for more free food. He refused just as he refused to turn stones into bread at the end of 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. God answers the prayer for daily bread in many ways with various time frames.  Most of the time He answer begins with a command to go and do something.

When we pray “give us this day our daily bread” we actively place our trust in the Bread of Life to provide for us. And He does, but not generally with a daily hand-out.