by Kevin Burton
God knows I am thankful. He also knows I’m not thankful enough.
My mind is on thanksgiving these days, being truly grateful to God for the things He has given me. Stopping, or at least slowing down, long enough to acknowledge that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17).
My mind has also fastened on the phrase “our daily bread,” which we get from the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:9-13, Luke 11: 2-4).
Capital T Thanksgiving, the American national holiday, is more gluttony than gratefulness to God. By tradition on Thanksgiving Thursday, most will produce ten times as much food as is necessary strictly speaking, to feed the family.
No, it’s not wrong to have a feast once in a while. But it can distort the concept of daily bread.
After the children of Israel left Egypt, they were fed by God in the wilderness with manna, a substance provided by God to meet their nutritional needs.
That, folks, was daily bread.
They were told to gather a day’s worth of manna only. When some disobeyed and gathered more, they found the next morning that their manna had maggots in it and smelled.
The exception was that on Saturday they were to gather two days’ worth of manna, because they were not supposed to work on the Sabbath day.
How many days’ worth of food do you have in your house? Without getting too deep into calculations, I would guess my family has at least two months’ worth of food on hand. So if we couldn’t buy anything for that time period we wouldn’t starve. In that middle-class American context what does the phrase “our daily bread” really mean?
Here we get some help from the late Dr. R.C. Sproul, founder of Ligonier Ministries, in an article he wrote about the Lord’s prayer.
“Jesus teaches us to pray that God would give us daily bread (Matt. 6:11). Obviously Jesus was not telling His disciples to pray only for bread. But bread was a powerful symbol of God’s provision for His people in the Old Testament,” Sproul wrote.
“We remember how God cared for the Israelites when they were in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. Life in the wilderness was hard, and soon the people began to complain that it would be better to be back in Egypt, where they had wonderful food to eat.”
“In response to these complaints, God promised to ‘rain bread from heaven’ (Ex. 16:4). The next morning, when the dew lifted, there remained behind on the ground ‘a small round substance, as fine as frost. . . . It was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey’ (vv. 14, 31). When God miraculously fed His people from heaven, he did so by giving them bread.”
“After the Korean War ended, South Korea was left with a large number of children who had been orphaned. Relief agencies came in to deal with all the problems that arose in connection with having so many orphan children,” Sproul wrote.
“One of the people involved in this relief effort told me about a problem they encountered with the children who were in the orphanages. Even though the children had three meals a day provided for them, they were restless and anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping. As they talked to the children, they soon discovered that the children had great anxiety about whether they would have food the next day.”
“To help resolve this problem, the relief workers in one particular orphanage decided that each night when the children were put to bed, the nurses there would place a single piece of bread in each child’s hand. The bread wasn’t intended to be eaten; it was simply intended to be held by the children as they went to sleep,” Sproul wrote.
“It was a ‘security blanket’ for them, reminding them that there would be provision for their daily needs. Sure enough, the bread calmed the children’s anxieties and helped them sleep. Likewise, we take comfort in knowing that our physical needs are met, that we have food, or ‘bread,’ for our needs.”
“This petition of the Lord’s Prayer, then, teaches us to come to God in a spirit of humble dependence, asking Him to provide what we need and to sustain us from day to day,” Sproul wrote.
Lord, help me that I won’t look at my Thanksgiving Day feast, or my two-month supply of bread, and forget Who it comes from, or fail to come to You daily for fellowship and provision.