QUESTION OF THE DAY: Should Christians only work and pray for “daily bread”?

Many of us, I suspect, have not found the career path we were led to expect in life. Lockdowns, inflation, and other factors seems to force us into living paycheck to paycheck. Is it wrong for us to hope and pray for more than just daily expenses to be covered?

While we are to pray for daily bread, stopping there doesn’t seem wise. The ideal wife, according to Proverbs, “laughs at the time to come” (31:25). Solomon warns about consuming too much rather than saving some for later: “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich” (Proverbs 21:17 ESV). The ant is commended for appearing to gather bread while it is available and save it for later (Proverbs 6:8).

One story in the Bible seems especially illuminating for how we should think of daily bread: the Book of Ruth. That story is all about bread. An Israeli family—a couple with their two sons—leave their home in the region of Bethlehem (literally: “house of bread”) to go seek their fortunes in Moab. As is revealed later, to make this relocation possible, they had to sell their fields to buyers outside of their extended family. The reason for the move is basic: Israel is suffering from famine. Bethlehem is not living up to its name so they are trying to make a living elsewhere.

In the following decade both of the sons marry non-Israelite women but then all three men in the family die. The surviving widow, Naomi, is left without anyone to help her provide for herself and without any hope of a future. She tells the widows of her two sons to go back to their fathers’ homes in the hope of remarrying and starting families. One does so but the other, Ruth, absolutely refuses: “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16–17 ESV).

So Naomi and Ruth return to a dire future of subsistence labor and poverty. Bethlehem is now prospering, but the land that her family once owned is unavailable to them. Naomi states emphatically that God has ruined her. While I’m sure Ruth’s presence was comforting to her, it probably hurt Naomi to see her daughter-in-law share in her poverty and destitution.

But everything changed because Ruth pursued daily bread: “Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.’ And she said to her, ‘Go, my daughter.’” (Ruth 2:2 ESV). Continue reading of Christian Post

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