Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 11- Give us This Day Our Daily Bread

(Picture: Starving Child from Darfur)

3/11- Lord’s Payer 4th Petition- Give us This Day our Daily Bread
This begins the second part of the Lord’s prayer and focuses on human beings.

Calvin: “But by this petition we ask of God all things in general that our bodies have need to use under the elements of this world [ Galatians 4:3], not only for food and clothing but also for everything God perceives to be beneficial to us, that we may eat our daily bread in peace. Briefly, by this we give ourselves over to his care, and entrust ourselves to his providence, that he may feed, nourish, and preserve us.”

Even the most devout of us still wrestles with the worries of this world. It is almost a natural thing that we are consumed with greater care of our bodies than of our souls. It is a test and a great exercise of our faith to trust the God will provide what we need.
In Calvin’s day, as in our own, there were some who said God wasn’t talking about the bread that feeds our bodies but only the bread that feeds our souls (supersubstantial bread they called it). But the simple meaning of the text was real bread. When Jesus fed the 5,000 it wasn’t spiritual bread, but real bread. God cares not just for our souls, but also for our minds and bodies. God is God of all. Some fear today that God will not or cannot help us with our physical needs. I believe they need to expand their vision of God. On the other hand are the “health and wealth” people who think that just because we are Christians we should be wealthy- if we pray hard enough. To this view I would say Jesus said, “daily bread” not extra bread. The example of our Lord is important. He didn’t have a home, he didn’t have a bunch of clothes, he didn’t have great transportation, yet he didn’t starve and he was at peace. Sometimes God does bless the godly with wealth, but that is not the rule for all who believe.
Calvin talks about this “daily” bread concept. He said it emphasizes God’s care for us day by day. It is not that God wound up the clock and left, but he cares for us each day. Daily bread restrains us from amassing great wealth and becoming greedy. Finally, daily bread reminds us of God’s ability to help us enjoy this daily bread- by ingesting it and benefiting from it. Calvin often had digestive problems (colic he said). He was grateful when he could eat and enjoy it.
Daily bread is “ours.” It is given to us by God, yet earned by our own honest toil. It should not be earned in such a way that others are purposefully harmed. It is by God’s blessing alone that our labors prosper. Human responsibility interplays with divine providence for Calvin. So we are called to work and trust God. So we are called to help the hungry (as in Darfur)in God's name.
Jesus said, "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat" (Mt. 25:35).
In our day, this is an important concept. God is "Jehovah Jireh" (God our Provider). The fact that we are so secular today is in part our belief that we have pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps, and we do not need God to provide for our needs. Now, with our economic problems, my hope is that we will recognize God is our provider, and in God we trust. I hope we will call out to God to provide and help us in our time of need.

Prayer: Father, many have lost their jobs. Many have lost their savings. Many are in fear of not having daily bread. Help us, in this faltering economy, to remember you and rely on you. Amen.

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