This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Hristo Kulichev (Bulgarian, imprisoned and exiled for almost four years for his faith in Jesus Christ), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
Man should not live by bread alone... (Matthew 4:4)
God teaches us to pray for our daily bread--but He doesn’t say that we have to think only about our daily bread. This struggle for bread is called ‘struggle for life’. People are willing to make all kinds of compromises in order to receive bread. When I was in prison there was hardly any food. When they gave us the prisoner’s uniforms, one boy complained that his trousers were too tight. The supervisor said: ‘Don’t worry, very soon they will become loose.’
I knew what would follow. Every day I prayed: ‘Lord, you fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fishes. Only a little crumb is enough for me Lord, please give it to me.’ I then realized that God can meet our needs in two ways:
1. He can give us what we need; or
2. He can set us free from what we consider a need.
God did not give me more bread. But He set me free from the feeling of hunger. I always felt satisfied. I never felt hungry--and bread and salt turned out to be a delicious meal for me.
When we trust the word which proceeds from the mouth of God we will never suffer want.
A moment of introspection: In the developed nations, many struggle with the problems of being overweight, and of likewise contending with the strictures of shedding excess pounds. Diets have become myriad in number--with each offering in its own way the "perfect method" for achieving the ideal body image. Often, food is the vehicle for weight gain, and becomes a significant factor in losing that weight. But both dieting and excessive weight focus on physical food. Jesus quoted Moses in reminding us that “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3) In our Christian life, to focus solely on physical food and disregard taking in God’s Word through Bible study, prayer, meditation on and application of His Word is to miss a major part of our relationship with our heavenly Father. Spiritual food is vital in increasing in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man--as Jesus Himself did. (Luke 2:52) This is important and should not be taken lightly.
Brother Kulichev speaks to our daily (physical) bread, but the truths he relates equally apply to spiritual nourishment. In the world, today, many know of the struggle for food, for life, which he describes. When he speaks of bread, he describes physical food. Within the struggle for life, Hristo advocates for bringing the issue of getting food, etc., to God. That’s always helpful. Moses prayed, and God told him He had heard the complaints about having no food to eat. So He gave the Israelites manna in the morning and quail in the evening. (Exodus 16) God knows when His children suffer hunger. Brother Kulichev acknowledged the experience of the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6:30-44) and the 4000 (Mark 8:14-21). The disciples were focusing on physical food, while Jesus also pondered the spiritual food in those situations. In each, Christ gave the physical food that was needed. But Hristo Kulichev also observed that sometimes, God can set us free from what we consider a need. The apostle Paul wrote, “...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11b-13, my emphasis). God gave Paul the gift of being content, whether God provided what he needed, or whether God set him free from what he considered a need.
I think of a well-known hymn that explores this desire for contentment and submitting our need to Jehovah Jireh. The hymn is entitled “Fill My Cup Lord” and its lyrics apply to our need for sustenance:
1. Like the woman at the well, I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy.
And then I heard my Savior speaking
“Draw from My well that never shall run dry.” REFRAIN
Fill my cup, Lord; I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
2. There are millions in this world who are seeking
For pleasures earthly goods afford.
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord. REFRAIN
3. So my brother if the things that this world gives you
Leave hungers that won’t pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray. REFRAIN
May we who thirst, look to Him who alone provides living water (John 4:4-15). May we who hunger look to Him who is the Bread of Heaven (John 6:48-51). If we consume too much, look to the Lord--who knows what it is like to be tested and tempted (Hebrews 2:18). If we seek to shed unwanted weight, look to God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV). If we are weak, look to the One who is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10). What a treasure God’s Word is! Thank you, Brother Kulichev, for taking us beyond the physical to see the spiritual. Fill my cup, Lord; feed me until I am freed from my need--till I hunger no more. Lord, make us whole--in body and in spirit.