In these uncertain times, in which matters great and small fill our hearts and minds with very real concerns, I find comfort in the simply profound truths written below. They help us appreciate the greatness of God’s “simple gifts,” and also give us hope that our own small lives matter more than we may realize. I hope these words are a help to you as well.
Every Harvest Is Prophecy
G.H. Morrison on Matt. 6:11 (Edited for length)
The Tiniest Petitions
“When you read it unimaginatively, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ seems an almost trifling petition. It almost looks like an intruder here. On the one side of it (Matt. 6:10) there is the will of God, reaching out into the height of heaven. On the other side of it (Matt. 6:12) there are our sins, reaching down into unfathomed depths. And then, between these two infinities, spanning the distance from cherubim to Satan, there is ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Our sin runs back to an uncharted past, but in this petition there is no thought of yesterday. The will of God shall be for evermore, but in this petition there is no tomorrow. As if some hill that a child could climb should be set down between two mighty Alps, so seems this prayer for our daily bread between the will of the eternal God, and the cry for pardon for our sins whose roots go down into the depths of hell.
But now suppose you take this prayer and set it in the light of harvest. Give us this day our daily bread—can you tell me what is involved when it is answered? Why, if you but realized it, and caught the infinite range of its relationships, never again would it be insignificant. For all the ministry of spring is in it, and all the warmth and glory of the summer. And night and day, and heat and cold, and frost, and all the falling of the rain. And light that has come from distances unthinkable, and breezes that have blown from far away, and powers of nourishment that for years have been preparing in the mother earth. Is it a little thing to get a piece of bread? Is it so little that it is out of place here where we are moving in the heights and depths? Not if you set it in the light of harvest.
I think then there is a lesson here about the greatness of the things we pray for. Our tiniest petitions might seem large, if we only knew what the answer would involve. There are things which you ask for which seem little things. Yet could you follow out that prayer of yours, you might find it calling for the power of heaven as mightily as the conversion of the nations. You are lonely, and you pray to God that He would send a friend into your life. And then some day to you there comes that friend, perhaps in the most casual of meetings. Yet who shall tell the countless prearrangements, before there was that footfall on the threshold which has made all the difference in the world to you?
Give us this day our daily bread, and the sunshine and the storm are in the answer. Give us a friend, and perhaps there was no answer saving for omniscience and omnipotence. Now we know in part and see in part, but when we know even as we are known we shall discover all that was involved in the answer to our humblest prayers.
The Toil It Cost
In the second place, in the light of harvest think of the toil that lies behind the gift.
Now and then a gift is given us which touches us in a peculiar way, because we recognize the toil it cost. It may be given us by a child perhaps, or it may be given us by some poor woman. And it is not beautiful, nor is it costly, nor would it fetch a shilling in the market. And yet to us who know the story of it, and how the hands were busied in the making, it may be beautiful as any diadem.
I want you then to take that thought and to apply it to your daily bread. It is a gift, and yet behind that gift do you remember all the toil there is? Daily bread is more divine than manna for, like manna, it is the gift of heaven, and yet we get it not till arms are weary and sweat has broken on the human brow. I think of the ploughman with his steaming horses driving his furrow in the heavy field. I think of the sower going forth to sow. I think of the stir and movement of the harvest. I think of the clanking of the threshing mill, and of the dusty grinding of the corn, and of all those who in our bakeries are toiling in the night when we are sleeping.
And is it not generally in such ways that our most precious gifts are given us? Every good and perfect gift is from above, yet is there something of heart-blood on them all. A noble painting is a precious gift. It is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. So is it with every noble poem; so with our civil and religious liberty. They are all gifts to us; they come from God; they are ours to cherish and enjoy. Yet every one of them is wet with tears, and charactered with human toil and pain, and oftentimes, like the Messiah's garment, dipped in the final ministry of blood. Into that fellowship of lofty gifts I want you, then, to put your daily bread. It is not little, nor is it insignificant when you remember all that lies behind it.
By Lowly Hands
Lastly, in the light of harvest think of the hands through which the gift is given. ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ we pray, and then through certain hands it is bestowed. Whose hands? Are they the hands of the illustrious, or of those whose names are famous in the world? All of you know as well as I do that it is not thus our bread is ministered; it reaches us by the hands of lowly men. Out of his cottage does the reaper come, and back to his cottage does he go at evening. And we halt a moment, and we watch him toiling under the autumn sunshine in the field. But what his name is, or where he had his birth, or what are his hopes and what his tragedies, of that we know absolutely nothing. So was it with the sower in the spring, and the harvester in autumn. They have no chronicle, nor any luster, nor any greatness in the eyes of man. And what I want you to realize is this, that when God answers this universal prayer, it is such hands as these that he employs. Are there not tens of thousands who are nameless, toiling, sorrowing, rejoicing, dying, and never raising a ripple on the sea? Give us this day our daily bread—it is by such hands that the prayer is answered. It is by these that the Almighty Father shows that He is hearkening to His children. It is His recognition of obscurity.
Perhaps we shall never know how life is beautified and raised and glorified by those who toil in undistinguished fashion. Such men may never write great poems, but it is they who make great poems possible. Such may never do heroic things, but they are the soil in which the seed is sown. Such men will not redeem the world. It takes the incarnate Son of God for that. But they—the peasants and the fishermen—will carry forth the music to humanity. Give us this day our daily bread. Are there not multitudes who are praying so?
And you, you have no genius, no gifts? You are an obscure and ordinary person ? But if there is any meaning in our text, set in the light of sowing and of harvest, it is that the answer to that daily prayer will be vouchsafed through lowly folk like you.”
G.H. Morrison (1866-1928)