Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Give us this day our daily bread"

I've sometimes wondered how to reconcile the reality of crippling poverty with some of the promises that Jesus makes in the Bible. Jesus teaches His disciples to pray "Give us each day our daily bread" (Luke 11:3), and then a few verses later he promises that "every one who asks receives" (Luke 11:10). Now, I am sure that there are many people throughout the world who earnestly pray the Lord's Prayer every day, and yet starve. Where is their daily bread? Why are they not receiving what they ask for, even though it's something Jesus specifically told them to ask for? Why isn't God holding up His end of the deal?

I think I got some insight into this problem on Monday when I talked with a man who has been working in Guatemala for the past few years. For 18 months he worked with people in Guatemala City who literally lived in a garbage dump. They dug their homes out of the garbage, and the floors were garbage and the walls were garbage. For the past year he's been working in the rural areas of Guatemala, where 50 percent of people are so poor that they can't afford sufficient food for their families. Here's what he said:

"Now when I say the Lord's Prayer, it's just very different for me. It's much more immediate, that it's not something just on Sunday, but it's actually a daily prayer there for them. 'Give us this day our daily bread.' And I think it's important to remember it doesn't say 'my daily bread,' it says 'our daily bread,' that it's for the whole world. You know, it's not, 'Oh, give me enough for me to get by today.' No. It's 'Give us -- give all of us -- our daily bread,' and I have a greater understanding of that now."

As usual, the problem is not with God, but with us. He has certainly provided us with enough food to feed the world. But selfishness and indifference keep us from seeing that those who are hungry get the food they need. There's no excuse for it. We are responsible for one another. I probably eat enough for a small village, and somewhere a child is swallowing rocks to fill the awful emptiness in his belly.


Deborah Bat Esther said...

Good point! I think your insight here is pretty good and interesting. God gives us right to claim his promises, but he gives us also the responsibility to obey His law to practice justice and mercy.

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