We want it, and we love it when we have it. COVID-19 has taken it from us.
Those who have retirement funds have discovered that this virus has impacted the entire economy and hence their future. Routine things that we once controlled like going to church, the gym, and our weekly book group have been disrupted. We used to have a measure of control over our own health or the health of our loved ones, and even that feels threatened. Jobs have been altered and some of us have lost them. All of this causes us to pause and wonder if we ever had control in the first place.
Solomon provides us with some wisdom in Psalm 127:1-2 and when he writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved rest.”
Seasons like these remind us in no uncertain terms that God is in control. And yet there is still this tendency on our part to “labor” and toil to produce certain results. Some of us have overstocked our pantries with food goods and toiletries. Perhaps we have gone into overdrive to keep our house sanitized and our family members safe. Others of us are doing an immense amount of “watching.” We watch the news and social media hoping to get the latest updates on the spread of the virus. Others of us have spent time researching the stock market hoping that it rebounds so that we can have a better sense of security for the future.
Solomon warns us that that those who rise early or stay up late to manufacture our sense of control will end up “eating the bread of anxious toil.” Our attempt to re-establish control is actually an exercise in futility. Like dogs chasing our tails we will not find the peace that we are seeking. We are only perpetuating the cycle of anxiety that we are trying to avoid.
In Matthew 6:11 Jesus tells us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s an interesting and powerful prayer. For one, Jesus isn’t telling us to labor or watch for this provision. He simply tells us to ask for it. Secondly, He tells us that this bread is daily and therefore something He wants to give us. Jerry Bridges points out that Jesus never told us to ask for weekly bread or monthly bread. That promise is never made. The bread that He gives us is for today. Food. Shelter. Family. Laughter. Coffee. These are just a few of the things He gives us each day as daily bread. In times like these, if we are alert, we come to appreciate these little morsels more and more. We will also discover that they are adequate to sustain us in times of scarcity. Finally, for those of us who have extra bread, we are offered a unique opportunity to share it with those who have less.
Looking to His face and His hands during this time will be a path towards sanity and peace. Seeing ourselves as an extension of His hands and face to the world around us will give us a sense of purpose.