These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. Psalm 104:27-28
Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11
There’s a loaf of bread on my kitchen counter. It came from the store, neatly packaged in a plastic bag to lock in freshness. It is made from 100% whole wheat flour, and every slice contains 3 grams of dietary fiber which, according to the FDA, accounts for about 12% of my minimum daily requirement for that nutritional element. It’s low in fat and cholesterol, and it’s a little bit higher in sodium than it should be, but it’s filling, and it tastes pretty good as far as these healthful kind of products go.
Am I grateful for this loaf of bread just as it is—wholesome and unadorned? Ask me after I slather it with sweet cream butter and a layer of homemade strawberry jam. Ask me after I smear it with mayo and turkey and Provolone and consume it with a side of chips and a pickle.
Food is only scarce in my house when I’ve been too busy to go shopping, or too lazy to prepare what’s already overflowing in the refrigerator. When my kids open the cupboard doors and whine, “There’s nothing to eat,” it usually means that we’re down to only three boxes of cereal, or that the frosted Poptarts are gone, leaving only the unfrosted kind. We are more than blessed, but we are not always mindful, much less grateful.
But here’s something that poked me in the gut regarding my daily bread. A few weeks ago, the teens at church participated in a hunger awareness program in which they went on a retreat and fasted for 30 hours. During that time, among other activities, the youth went about stringing beads onto lengths of filament and then tying the lengths together. With the retreat concluding on Sunday morning, the young people walked into the sanctuary for morning worship and went about circling the congregation with the epic string of beads. At first everyone smiled with appreciation for the teens, and with a nod to the monumental craft project. The beads wound up and down the aisles and seemed to go on forever.
And then we in the congregation learned what the beads symbolized: that each of the beads stood for one child who had died of hunger during just the preceding 30 hours alone.
I was not the only one who wept.
Am I grateful for daily bread? Not nearly enough. But I’m trying to be.