God gives us our daily bread by increasing grain

Lunminthang Haokip *

1. GENEROSITY MANIFESTS ITSELF IN HOSPITALITY: "A hungry man is an angry man," the old saying goes. Foodgrains are essential to hold the body and the spirit in one piece. Jesus, the Master of human lives, knew it deeper than His disciples did. Calculating on human mode, His inner circle wanted to send away the multitude who gathered to hear Christ preach. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late (Mark 6:35)."

Oblivious of man's take on problems, Jesus had a solution in hand. But He answered, "You give them something to eat." It augurs well with the mind of God when man goes the extra mile to feed strangers in need. Abraham was hospitable to three strangers. "Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way - now that you have come to your servant (Genesis 18:5)."

Abraham's generosity paid rich dividends. He happened to chance-serve Angels. Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son (Genesis 18:10)." God kept His promise to His faithful servant. A son indeed was born to Sarah when she was 91 years old. It was the fulfilment of what God foretold. Abraham's hospitality to 'strangers' was a blessing for generations.

2. GOD MAKES OUR STOREHOUSE SPILL OVER: Mizoram may be a small State. But it does pretty well in the fields of sound recording, choir singing, Club Football league, Traffic discipline, Covid containment, New Land Use Policy (NLUP) implementation etc. The hill State of NE India also stands out in PDS - public distribution system - of essential commodities.

No much foodgrain is produced due to paucity of wet and flat land. Yet, the Govt takes extra care to store foodgrain brought from outside and diligently distribute them. "Give them something to eat (Mark 6:36)." God knows that man needs to sustain his life by eating cereals and pulses. So He multiplies the seed of staple grain.

The Almighty also desires converts to increase in number. 2 Cor 9:10 says, "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." Seed, fruits and animals are made to increase manifold by the Creator. It's the Maker's way of reminding humanity that our very existence is God-dependent.

It's He who sends seasons and rain in the dot of time. A slight disorder in the cycle of natural providence results in crop failure and famine. Even after ripe paddy sheaves are cut down for threshing, unseasonal downpour can make the cultivator cry in agony. There could be a slip between the cup and the lip. From seedling to threshing, it's the Lord who nurtured.

3. FIVE LOAVES AND TWO FISHES FILLED THE MULTITUDE: Immediately after the Lord asked His disciples to give them something to eat, He said, "How many loaves do you have (Mark 6:38)?" In our Don Quixotic zeal to do more for the Lord's kingdom, we, at times, tend to 'bite off more than we can chew.' Peter had to bite the dust for having 'overestimated' his strength.

It's safer to lay more stress on our limitations. God keeps a record of what has been given to us earlier. Are we faithfully making the spiritual capital of the gifts and favours granted to us already? That would have a bearing on additional things we ask for. When the disciples found out (what they have), they said, "Five loaves and two fishes (Mark 6:38)."

The morsel of foodstuff for one was the 'seed' Jesus blessed to feed the multitude. A little ministry passionately pushed forth has the potential to touch myriad souls. N. Daniel, called out by God to serve Him, had only two proteges to teach. As he cribbed and enquired of the Lord, he got Isaiah 60:22 as an answer, "A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten in his time."

The Lord kept His promise. When God sees faith in a yielding work, 'five loaves and two fishes' of obedience will take 'humble labours' from the 'shallow waters' to worldwide waves of 'spiritual fortune.' I once counted the total number of grains on a paddy sheaf. I was pleasantly surprised to find 365 pieces. I thanked God that he provides for every day in 365 days of a year.

4. ThE LORD CAN CREATE PLENTY OUT OF POVERTY: Mark 6:41, "Then He gave them to the disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fishes among them all." It was a miracle beyond human understanding. But then, the life of Jesus itself was a miracle. He was and is the Master of the universe.

Hebrews 1:3 says, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." If He could walk on the sea, make the lame walk and the blind see, there was little wonder in the thousand-fold reproduction of 'five loads and two fishes.'

This incident should make us wisely use the little talents and gifts we are endowed with. If the intent is to 'spend and be spent' to lift up people to the level of 'living and dying' for Christ, our meagre 'five loaves and two fishes' will become worthy in Christ's hands to bless others.

God reserves the cream of His promises to the absolutely faithful, "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thy offspring (Isaiah 44:3)."

For the Almighty Jehovah who created the earth and the heavens out of nothing, nothing is beyond His capacity to do. He promised in Isaiah 35:1, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and shall blossom as the rose." The prophecy has come true. The deserts of Israel produce foodgrain and fruits abundantly, today.

5. GOD REFILLS THE GRAIN HOUSE EVERY YEAR: If He so desired, the Lord could have asked for lobsters or chicken biryani for his audience to feed on. But He opted for ordinary loaves and fishes. Simple basic food for the body and the 'distilled' Word of God for the soul were enough to make the spirit soar. The rich man who fed on sumptuous food every day ended up in 'torment' in hell (Luke 16:23).

In contrast, the beggar with sores, who desired for the crumbs that fell off from the rich man's table, after death, was "carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom, in heaven (Luke 16:22)." All that is required of us mortals is that, like the Saviour did, we have to praise Jehovah for providing our daily bread. Mark 6:41, "Taking the five loaves and two fishes and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves."

When we look down, before a meal, we see food provision. If we look up, we give glory to the Provider. To give us our 'daily bread,' God has to send rain, make the soil soft and fertile, and send the second rain for the sheaves to mature. It's amazing to ponder over the Almighty's meticulous concern in giving varied tastes to vegetables, fruits and spice plants.

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon all the face of the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat (Genesis 1:29)."

How marvellous is our LORD that He ceaselessly provides our needs when we daily grieve Him with our disobedience? Psalm 147:5 says, "Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite." He indeed is the Giver of our daily bread. We owe Him a daily thanksgiving.

6. GOD GAVE THE INCREASE: I grew up in Thinglhangphai-Serou valley of Manipur. The fertile delta of 'mustard leaf' fame, brought to existence by the confluence of the Imphal river and Chakpi river, formed a vast stretch of arable land fit for growing paddy, maize, peanuts, mustard etc.

I can recollect with nostalgia the play-arena of my childhood days when we made hay of threshing time by repeated reckless somersaults on the piles of straw. Relishing on mid-day meal after a half-day nerve-straining toil in the field - collecting sheaves of paddy and piling them up for manual thrash - was great fun. But today, cutting and threshing machines have drastically reduced the role of human hands.

Yet, collection of paddy sheaves is still done manually. Hands are also required in packing and loading of grain. Despite the arrival of the new machine, about 15 to 20 able-bodied persons are still needed to assist in turning sheaves into grain. The tragedy of the situation is the bitter truth that it's no more cost-effective to grow paddy.

The cost incurred in seedling-raising, planting, weeding, cutting and threshing cannot be recovered, in cash or kind, even in a high-yielding year. Rice-growers sigh in sorrow because they cannot find buyers for paddy. This has something to do with the glut of low-price superfine rice in the market.

Nevertheless, it's the goodness of the Lord that makes plants bear fruit. In comparing preaching the Word of God to the good seed, St. Paul said in 1 Cor. 3:6, "I have planted, Apollos watered; and God gave the increase." The same is true with the paddy seed or any grain seed.

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an IAS (Retd)
This article was webcasted on November 26 2022 .

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