Three Things You Need to KnowDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Give us this day our daily bread.
I once learned that when writing it can be helpful to put the subject in the middle of a circle and then use your imagination to walk around the subject, viewing it from other angles while writing down whatever ideas comes to mind, like rays of light coming from the source.
Marcus Goodyear edits these Daily Reflections. In considering this passage “Give us this day our daily bread,” Marcus observed that my comments from yesterday’s Reflection, had a very American feel to them. So I have been wondering what this passage would look like if I stepped out of my “first world” position and walked around the circle to view it from a “third world” position—from the position of a “have-not” rather than the position of a “have.”
It’s difficult to do because as the old saying goes, “You can’t know what you don’t know.” So let me start with three things I don’t know about poverty.
- I don’t know what it’s like to have no safety net. For all of my life I have had money in the bank and family and friends with both the willingness and resources to help.
- I don’t know what it’s like to have a beloved child waste away from lack of clean water, adequate nutrition, or basic health care while I can do nothing to help.
- I don’t know what it’s like to be so consumed with somehow finding bread just for this day that there is no time left to think of tomorrow and to pursue a high calling.
But there are three things I do know.
- I do know that Jesus teaches us to pray for “our” daily bread, not “my” daily bread. Until every person is fed there is work for “us” to do.
- I do know that Jesus teaches us to pray for our “daily” bread, not weekly, monthly, or yearly. When my “enough” means others don’t have “enough” then my “enough” is too much.
- I do know that in this prayer, Jesus puts bread above every other human concern.
Richard Stearns, CEO of World Vision, writes in his book, The Hole in Our Gospel:
The total income of American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion. (That’s more than $5,000 billion.) It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest 1 billion people out of extreme poverty. Said another way, American Christians, who make up about 5 percent of the Church worldwide, control about half of global Christian wealth; a lack of money is not our problem.
It is humbling and convicting to walk around the circle of “our daily bread” and see it from the side of those in need. It leads me to the haunting words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
May the prayer Jesus teaches us to pray break our silence.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Statistically speaking, the physical needs of the world are incomprehensibly great. How do you respond to the magnitude of it all? Describe some of the root causes of such widespread poverty. What kinds of things can you do to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, the scale of suffering in the world is staggering. The need is so great and by comparison, my resources are so small. I confess that I love my comfort. I love being in control of my life, and I love having what I want when and how I want it. Disturb my comfort. Soften my heart for the poor. Strengthen my resolve to know and to care for those in need. Amen.
Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren. Send a note to Dave.
What Do You Do?
If you sit with someone long enough, included in the initial small talk (“Where do you live?” “How do you know so-and-so?”) someone in the conversation will inevitably ask, “What do you do?” What are we looking for when we ask that question? And what do we hear when we’re on the receiving end of that question?
What we do is important stuff in this world, and God desires greatly to be invited into what it is we find ourselves doing every day. God takes delight in the work of our hands. But do we sometimes confuse what we and others “do” with who we are and, especially, who we are in Christ? Would our question change if we thought about it more deeply? And what about our answer? How about you? What Do You Do?