There is a phenomenon among babies and infants called “failure to thrive.” This may happen when newborns or infants have their physical needs met but do not respond normally. Sometimes the bond between child and caregiver isn’t strong enough. Orphans raised in institutions with overworked staff also suffer from failure to thrive. It is not enough to fill our stomachs with nutrients. Food keeps our bodies alive, but it does not meet our deeper needs for affection, human contact, compassion, and finding a purpose in life. When caregivers have little time to engage with the children under their care, the children begin to suffer from lack of human bonding.
Jesus knows our spiritual well-being is as crucial to our overall health as our emotional well-being is crucial to our physical health. Jesus goes beyond meeting our needs for belonging, security, community, and purpose—he provides eternal life.
God provided manna for the Israelites in the desert—physical sustenance, but they died. Jesus is the living bread from God who sustains us spiritually so that we can experience fullness of life on earth and in eternity.
Through Christ, God is always ready to feed us. God comes to us in many ways—intimate relationships with family and friends, worship, service to others, scripture, and the incredible world all around us. Our ritual of Holy Communion regularly reminds us to pause and partake of Christ, the Bread of Life.
Lord God, you provide for all our needs. May we turn to you to address our spiritual needs even when our physical needs are being met. Amen.
David’s family was a mess. Among his children there was rape, murder, and a plot to overthrow him by his son Absalom. Violence followed, and Second Samuel tells the story of Absalom’s death. Even though Absalom had betrayed him, David still loved his son with a parent’s never-ending love—the kind of love that God demonstrates perfectly for us, as David celebrates in Psalm 34. The author of Ephesians warns against acting out of anger, wrath, and malice (the very things that tore apart David’s family). We should instead forgive, as God in Christ has forgiven us. In John, Jesus restates that he is the path to God because he teaches God’s truth. Jesus will give his own life but then raise up those who believe in him.
• Read 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33. When have you been called to “deal gently” with a loved one?
• Read Psalm 34:1-8. Reflect on a time when you were able to intimately “taste and see” God’s goodness in your life.
• Read Ephesians 4:25–5:2. Are your words and actions imitating Christ?
• Read John 6:35, 41-51. God comes to us in unexpected ways. Who have you discounted as a servant of God? How can you support their ministry?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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