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Friday, April 8, 2011

Weekly Snippet: Our Daily Bread

Do you ever find yourself worrying about the future?  I know, dumb question, right?

The world tells us to plan for the future, to store away nest eggs and so forth, and I agree that this is a good idea, even a responsible and godly idea.  However, it isn't always possible.  Sometimes all we have is enough for today, and though it worries us to face a future that is all up in the air, this is right where God wants us.  He wants to test us, to see if we can trust Him and rely on Him for our security.

When God fed the Israelites manna, He instructed them to gather what they needed for that day (except when the Sabbath was starting), and throw out what they didn't use, at the end of the day.  Despite the miraculous source of this food, which itself proved God's ability to provide in any circumstance, some of the Israelites didn't listen, and saved up their leftovers "just in case," during the week. This saved food spoiled and stank up the camp, gathering God's wrath.

Why would God get angry?  Isn't "waste not, want not" a commendable virtue?  Does God want us to live for today, with no thought of tomorrow?  I don't read this passage that way.  I see it as an object lesson from God, proving to the Israelites (and modern readers) that whether we save or don't save, our future is really secured by the Lord.  No amount of a "nest egg" can protect us from future troubles; it is impossible to plan for all contingencies, and tomorrow may be our last, after all of our planning is done.  What we really need, more than a retirement plan, is God's involvement in our futures.  God wants us to trust Him!

Sometimes God gives us the "future bread," like He did to Joseph and the Egyptians (see Genesis chapter 41), or like He did to the Israelites gathering manna on a Friday morning, before Sabbath started that night at sundown (see Exodus 16: 21-30).  He gives us what we are going to need but don't yet know we need, and we would be wise to store it up when He sends it.  Even then, savings do not save; only God does.

At other times in our lives, we may find that God only gives us our "daily bread"--that is, what we need for today alone.  When Jesus instructed us on how to pray, He told us to ask God for our "daily bread" (Matthew 6: 8-13).  Like the Israelites in the desert, who relied on God for bread each day, we too may only receive what we need today; there will not be enough for tomorrow also.  In those times, we are being taught that our own hands, and our own planning, is not what saves us.

God's power is big enough to miraculously deal with the monsters in our futures, but the challenge for today is to have the faith to rest in God's care.  Savings are from God, and our daily bread is from God.  Even when so much seems uncertain, those who know God, know that the future is secure.

Today, if you are relying on your daily bread, have you remembered to be grateful for the blessings of today?  Can you accept what you have been given, without grumbling or worrying about tomorrow?  Also, for those who have savings, have you remembered to thank God for providing for today, as well as caring for tomorrow?