Daily Bread, Eternal Joy

Today, for seemingly no reason at all, I keep thinking about a doctor I interacted with right after my daughter was born. She went straight to the NICU with some breathing trouble and low blood sugar. We didn’t get to see her for a couple of hours while I was in recovery. When they finally rolled me in there to see her, I wasn’t even sure if I could touch her.

I was a bit shell-shocked after her birth and had no idea how to process seeing her hooked up to so many tubes. She was fine. I just didn’t know she was fine. Freshly postpartum, I just looked at her with tears running down my face. I hadn’t even gotten to hold her yet. A doctor saw us and made a point to walk over. All he said was, “She is ok. She will be fine.” He gave us a reassuring smile, and left.

That’s all. He didn’t linger. He didn’t have to come talk to us in the first place. But he saw an obviously first-time mother worried about her baby, and he sought to assuage my fears.

I didn’t see him again after that and I have not thought about him in four and a half years. Why now?

I think it’s because I’ve been struggling a lot with contentment, anxiety, and anticipatory fear. These are not new struggles, but lately they’ve been heightened. I frequently forget to fix my eyes on things above, even though little reminders of God’s grace are littered across my days. Perhaps this is why this doctor came to mind for the first time since my daughter was born. How often do I overlook or forget small evidences of God’s grace, just as I did this doctor?

Daily Bread

Since becoming a mom, I have meditated frequently on the concept of “daily bread.” We find it in the Lord’s prayer, the one Jesus teaches to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6). It’s a callback to the exodus, when God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt. When the Israelites complained that they had no food, God provided manna for them—literally raining a bread-like substance from heaven to provide this basic need for His people.

Though daily bread likely refers to God’s provision of physical needs, I think it’s interesting that later in this same chapter, Jesus exhorts the disciples not to worry or be anxious. The Father knows that we have basic needs, like food and clothing. But the Father also knows we have bigger needs, bigger fears, bigger worries. Yet, “Don’t worry about tomorrow,” he says. He gives us what we need for each day—physical, emotional, and spiritual. And these daily provisions point us to an even greater reality.

Small Moments of Grace

The days are filled with reminders that we are sinful people who live in a fallen world. But for as many disruptions, thorns-in-the-side, and trials that crop up in a day, there are as many reminders of God’s daily presence and provision. As Randy Alcorn wrote, “God gives us hundreds of reasons to be grateful every hour—and if you think I’m exaggerating, ask Him to make you aware of His gracious provisions surrounding you.”

These are things I struggle most to recognize, but are the very reminders that point me back to the One who gives good gifts to His children. Consider:

  • A quiet morning of prayer and Scripture reading.
  • The friend who left a flat white and coloring books on my front porch when one of my kids was sick and my husband was out of town.
  • My children making each other laugh at the dinner table.
  • Parents who stayed with me for over a week while my husband was overseas.
  • The nurses in that same NICU who cared for our baby and showed us how to do all the things new parents never know how to do.

There are countless moments like these throughout my days, if I will only condition my heart and mind to recognize them.

Grace, Disguised

If I’m not careful, however, I could make the Lord out to be some kind of fairy godmother or immortal vending machine—and I’m not trying to preach a prosperity gospel here. Instead, we must look at a fuller picture of God’s grace.

There are other ways in which the Lord pours out His grace on us. Sometimes grace doesn’t always feel like grace, at least in the moment. God may feel far away when sin struggles abound, when a family member is diagnosed with a terminal illness, or when a friend betrays us. There are countless types of trials we may experience, for sin knows no boundaries and permeates all of life on this earth.

Yet there is grace to be found, even in trials. Sometimes the grace in trials is:

  • The Lord revealing in us something that is keeping us far from Him, inviting us to repent and embrace the freedom we have in Jesus.
  • An occasion to experience an aspect of His character that we wouldn’t otherwise know.
  • A strengthening of our trust in Him, and not in ourselves.
  • A chance to respond to a less-than-ideal situation in a Christlike manner.
  • Another step forward in this long process called sanctification.
  • The opportunity to speak of His grace and mercy to those who may not know Him, and to encourage fellow believers walking in trials themselves.

This kind of grace is not comfortable, but I don’t think God cares too much about our comfort. He loves us too much to do so. At the end of the day, if we are to become more like Christ—and that should be our ultimate goal—then “we must share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17)

Though we may have to work to see it, God’s grace is in each day. If you don’t believe me, believe the writer of Lamentations (a book whose name literally means “the passionate expression of grief and sorrow”):

Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!

Ultimate Joy

Indeed, evidences of God’s grace fill our days. But, lest we look too low to find our joy, we must remember that these evidences of grace ultimately point us to Grace Himself. When we allow these small moments of grace—whether in times of plenty or in times of trial—to cause us to fix our eyes on the “author and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), then we can say with Paul:

Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:7–8)

Yes, God provides for our daily needs. But more than that, God has given us the ultimate gift in Christ. His provision is rooted in the gospel. At the end of the day (as a former pastor of mine used to say), our biggest problem has been solved and our biggest need has been met. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we are no longer separated from God. The gospel has saved us. This is His ultimate provision—the promise of eternal life and the confident hope that He will fulfill that promise upon Christ’s return. On that day, our faith will become sight and we will dwell with the Lord forever. That is the hope by which we go about our days.

Photo by Christelle Hayek on Unsplash