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Chapter 5: Sustenance
Give us today, our daily bread [Matthew 6:11]
In the beginning mankind had access to everything we needed in abundance. No one went hungry or needed to work for anything. It was all there in the garden for the taking whenever and whatever our hearts desired.
That all changed at the so-called fall of man. Theologians have debated the meaning and cause of the fall for centuries, but I believe that at it’s core it was about doubt, pride and arrogance.
Adam and Eve doubted God. They doubted his love for them and his desire for their well-being. They took maters into their own hands and as a result they were forced to leave the garden and begin to work for their survival.
When God turned Adam and Eve out of the garden he told them what awaited them out in the world.
Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food [Genesis 3:17-19]
But because this toil for survival was not part of God’s original design and because God’s love for his people is go great, we can see time and time again how he intervenes against nature itself and provides for our needs.
The most obvious example of this comes in Exodus 16 where God provides literal bread from heaven to feed his people in the desert. Elsewhere, the prophet Elijah, while on the run from the evil king Ahab, received bread and meat delivered to him by ravens (1 Kings 17). And who can forget the feeding of the 5000, (John 6:1-15) where a young boy offers Jesus his meager lunch and it miraculously turns into enough food to feed upwards of 10,000 people. (Remember, in Jesus day only the men would have been counted so by the time you add in women in children the crowd could have been easily double that number).
These and numerous other examples show how God cares enough about us to make sure we have what we need to survive. Therefore; when we pray for our daily bread we are reaching back through history and reminding ourselves that God is our great provider.
The words themselves should conjure up all of theses stories from scripture as well as instances from our own lives where God stepped into the narrative and circumvented the natural order of things so that we could go on living. If God had not stepped in and dropped bread from heaven on the Israelites they would have died, plain and simple. While not quite as dramatic, there are instances from my own past that can only be explained as a supernatural intervention made a just the right time to insure my survival. Contracts that got signed and money that got transferred the very day a large expense came due or just in time to prevent an eviction notice or disconnection of utility services. These things have happened to me and similar things happen to God’s people every day. They’ve maybe even happened to you. These Godly interventions are the manna of our modern times.
Don’t ignore the fact also that this is daily bread.
God’s sustenance is never meant to be hoarded. There is always, plenty to go around and there is plenty more coming tomorrow, and the next day. The Israelites learned that lesson quickly. They could not keep manna, it spoiled within 24 hours of being gathered. This is because, when God steps in and transcends the natural order of things he does so firstly to provide for and show his love to each of us individually, but he also does it to glorify himself. You cannot hoard God’s glory, it MUST be shared. Failure to acknowledge and share God’s glory with the world will result in the spoilage of the manna and the end of the blessing.
This is what some theologians refer to as the concept of mixed up grace. God often provides blessings that are not meant for us alone, they are meant to be shared with others. In this way he brings the community together and spreads his love far and wide. We are directed by him to share our resources and redistribute his blessings through our relationships with one another.
So, when we pray “Give us today, our daily bread,” we are asking God to provide for our needs yes, but we are also asking him to help us to share our blessings with those around us and spread his grace more evenly throughout the world. At this point, pause and make specific requests for the provisioning of your needs and the needs you see around you. Thank him for the blessings he has already provided and ask him to direct you in the redistribution of his grace to others in need.