Give us this day our daily bread. – Mat. 6:11 (KJV)
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty – John 6:35 (NIV)
While in Haiti several weeks ago on a missions trip, I became acquainted with a term I had scarcely paid attention to before – food insecurity. Food insecurity refers to the lack of available food and one’s access to it. A household is considered food insecure when its occupants live in hunger or fear of starvation. It is a measure of the lack of resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply due to various risk factors including droughts, shipping disruptions, fuel shortages, economic instability, wars, etc.
Mind you, I was not previously unaware of the problem of hunger in the world. I’ve volunteered at local food banks, given to organizations that support world hunger. I and even sponsor a child through Compassion International and part of the proceeds of which goes towards providing food. However I saw food insecurity up close and personal in Haiti. I learned the villagers our missions team assisted could not depend upon eating every day. The last day of our trip the team funded and served a community feast for the villagers. Even then, all the villagers did not eat. These villagers were considered fortunate by Haitian standards.
Our team did not personally experience food insecurity but rather what I like to call food “inconvenience.” We found that simply because a meal was printed on a hotel menu did not mean that the kitchen had the ingredients to prepare the meal. Reorders became commonplace. Additionally since Haitians were accustomed to eating less than we Americans, less food was prepared for us by our Haitian hosts. Team members had to initially take smaller portions during the buffet line to ensure that all members could eat. If the buffet ran out of a certain item, there was no guarantee it was going to be replenished. There was some grousing about this in the early days of our trip, but by the end, team members realized how fortunate we were. I personally at times felt guilty taking lunch breaks at the work site since only team members ate what was prepared for us and not the larger community.
Many Haitians who live daily with food insecurity have an acute understanding of the portion of the Lord’s Prayer that reads, “give us this day our daily bread.” I fear those of us who live in material abundance, as measured by the world’s standards and not US standards, may face an even greater food insecurity. I’m not referring to food that feeds the body, but rather food that nourishes the soul. We have attempted to satiate our spiritual hunger with material food to no avail. Dieticians use the term “empty calories” to refer to food that might be filling but is devoid of any nutritional value.
Some in developed countries, including Christians, feast on the empty calories of materialism but remain spiritually malnourished. The sad thing is these people are completely oblivious to their spiritual condition. They are like modern day Laodiceans who think themselves “rich and in need of nothing” but the truth is they are “poor, wretched and blind” Rev. 3:17 (NIV). They suffer from food insecurity. Their soul is filled, but it only temporary. When they become “hungry” again they gore themselves on the same trappings. This is tantamount mount to drinking salt water to cure one’s thirst.
Understand I’m not setting up a false dichotomy equating poverty to spirituality and wealth to carnality. Regardless of what does or does not fill our refrigerators, it is what fills our hearts that make the difference.
During the Lenten season, even non-Christians have increased spiritual acuity. It’s the one time during the year that Jesus Christ is discussed broadly in mainstream media. Those who are not hostile to the Gospel message may even attend church services today. Why not take advantage of this opening to offer the “Living Bread” that can only truly satisfy the soul.
Note: I am not Roman Catholic, but I feel moved to offer a confession, “it’s has been 17 days since my last blog post.” The truth is my travel schedule over the last month consisting of four out of town trips including a week long missions trip left me physically and emotionally depleted. As I attempted to write, I realized the truth in the saying, “it’s tough to draw from an empty well. I’ve had a chance to get some rest of the last week and recharge my batteries. Look for my more frequent posts again!