Having Enough

by Barbara Wheeler-Bride

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

—Matthew 6:25

After college, I worked in a small nonprofit in Jackson, Mississippi. Sometimes I would sit with the executive director as she looked over the week’s financial statements, expenditures for bills and payroll, and our income from donations and grants. Faced with tough decisions about how to make our small income stretch to cover expenses, she would lean back in her chair, sigh, and pray, “Lord, give us this day our daily bread.” Not for next year, next month, next week, or even tomorrow, but today. Give us enough for today.

I would screw up my face (or at least in my mind) and look at the realities of the numbers around us and wonder, We might need to take a more practical approach. But while my executive director was praying Jesus’ words found in Matthew 6:11, she was living his teaching in Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.”

People are hungry because they don’t have jobs (or jobs that pay enough) and can’t afford to buy food. Children go to school without breakfast—and maybe even dinner the night before—and have trouble concentrating throughout the day. Seniors can’t string together enough retirement and Social Security to provide for themselves. And if you work with a food pantry or other feeding ministry, you can add to this “worry” list.

As Christians in a land of plenty, how often do we still only see scarcity? We look around and see that there’s not enough. The examples above point to a lack of income, insufficient safety nets, and gaps in our efforts to care for the weakest and most marginalized in our society. And as our own personal investments and savings grow at rates we can’t imagine will sustain our futures or we fear losing our jobs or our homes in a time of creeping economic recovery, do we truly believe that God is going to provide what we need and even enough for us to share with others?

But the message in the Gospels is that God does provide. Feeding the 5,000, filling fishermen’s nets—God gives people what they need. Jesus disciples’ looked at these individual situations and doubted there was enough. They saw scarcity. Jesus saw abundance. How often do we take the disciples’ view? In the example with my executive director, I doubted, I worried—like the disciples—that there just wouldn’t be enough.

Today, it is up to us to view the world in the same way Jesus did and share and determine how we use our resources to make sure there is enough for everyone. This becomes even more important as the disparity grows between those who have more than enough and those who struggle to live on small incomes, food stamps, and other assistance. Our “worry” can be calmed by God’s assurance that there will be enough. We can start to look for the abundance—even in the midst of being challenged by the shortages we see around us—and turn our worry into action. In the examples of feeding the 5,000 and the fishermen’s nets being overburdened with fish, the people who were with Jesus took action. They shared the food they had, they lowered their nets into the water, and there was enough (more than enough!) for everyone.

As we read the Bible, and this miracle appears again and again, it should remind us that God sees that abundance already exists in our world. We must adopt that vision as well. Once we truly see that, hunger in our midst becomes even more scandalous. Abundance should convict us to be even more persistent in our advocacy, even more insistent that we create a world where all are fed.

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