A Crummy Piece of Bread
When I was a very small child, I found it strange that the Lord’s Prayer included the line, “give us this day our daily bread.” I prayed those words anyway, but I wondered why I should ask God for something so simple as a crummy piece of bread. Prisoners lived off bread and water. Mom and Dad gave us meat, potatoes, vegetables, dessert, the whole shebang. I couldn’t imagine any other way of living.
A few years later, I studied Thanksgiving, and I still remember my mixed emotions of reverence and something like fear, realizing that the Pilgrims bowed their heads respectfully and thanked God for a single feast. These people were glad to have survived a long journey and a hard beginning in a new land. They were happy to have basic life. Basic freedom. A chance to fight it out and live another year.
Later still, I read Laura Ingalls Wilder, and long stories of American pioneers began to sink in for the first time. I saw how much Laura valued a checked tablecloth and the sound of a fiddle. She talked about being thankful for simple provisions in a way that made sense to me.
Reading The Boxcar Children, I felt the importance of a cracked cup, cold milk, and fresh berries. My Side of the Mountain taught me to love Refuge by showing me a simple wilderness shelter. Anne Shirley taught me to be grateful for the escape and lodestar of words. Tolkien showed me how sometimes rest comes for only a short time in Rivendel before a difficult journey continues.
By the time I got to The Hiding Place, I was asked to join Betsy’s gratitude for fleas. When my heart resisted, I learned with Corrie that these tiny beasts kept concentration camp soldiers at a distance.
And several weeks ago, I listened to Audrey Assad tell the story of Syrian Christians who were grateful that their loved ones did not have their mouths bound while they were executed so that they could die praising Jesus. Sitting there, I realized that I have so much to learn about thankfulness.
It is difficult to remember to be grateful when the election is sucking all hope and joy from our hearts. I find myself holding my breath, waiting to praise God after all this mess ends. “On November 9, I will pick the pieces up. Then I will make the best of things,” I think.
But here in the squeeze, God is good. Here in the squeeze, we can be grateful. This is the perfect time, in fact, to look for gifts that come to us out of the generosity of God. And as we feel temptations to fear and hate, we can express thankfulness instead.
So often David did this in the Psalms when he was in big trouble. We read his writings now and fail to see the choice he was making to look beyond his circumstances. But it matters that some of his words were written when he didn’t know what would happen next. That shows us how we can do the same in our difficulty.
And yes, I know grumpy exegetes complain that the Psalms aren’t ours to claim because they sit in a historical context. But the God David praised is the God we praise still. Truths David claimed about God’s character and awareness are still realities.
Gratitude during fearful times can help us remember that God has a plan even now, even for us. Simply revisiting that truth lifts my tired soul to a new plane.
The Lord is my light and my salvation,
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
Doesn’t that make your soul take a big, deep breath? There is beauty to be found yet. The daily bread of our Lord has been broken to fill our hungry hearts.
So Lord, “Give us this day our daily bread. It is Yours to fill us, and ours to be filled by You. Thank You for being close. Thank You for being enough. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”