Feeding the Hungry
WORLD hunger continues to be a pressing problem. Indeed, for some people it is a matter of life and death today, even as you read this article. Yet lack of food isn't always the main challenge. Poor distribution systems or political priorities may prevent abundant supplies from getting to the people in need.During my childhood there were times when my mother and I knew hunger. And so when I read or hear about those without food, I am often moved to contribute to organizations that will help. But at the same time I have learned another way of assisting--one that will cross international boundaries without fail. This, of course, is prayer. Over the years, as I have relied more and more on prayer to meet my own needs, I have become increasingly convinced that prayer can make a difference. It gives us strength to persevere, inspiration to find new solutions, and it helps us draw close to God, as Christ Jesus did. One of my favorite stories in the Bible deals with Jesus' feeding of four thousand people with only a few loves and fishes. The abundant food is impressive, of course. But of perhaps greater interest is the dialogue that goes on between the Master and his disciples before the people are fed. Jesus felt a compassionate desire to feed the people instead of sending them away hungry. But when he told his disciples this, they replied, "Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? The disciples were, in effect, stymied by looking at what they didn't have instead of actually seeing the supply they did have on hand. Jesus, on the other hand, asked them, "How many loaves have ye? Their reply was that they had seven loaves and also "a few little fishes. Then Jesus "took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks. This gratitude for the good at hand was a crucial step in the process because it meant recognizing that God is the source of all good and being grateful for that good. Jesus then gave the food to the disciples, who became the "distribution network that enabled this modest supply to feed four thousan d people with food left over. This experience is sometimes described as a miracle, never to be repeated. But Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, sheds a new light on it in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes, "A miracle fulfils God's law, but does not violate that law. And she continues a bit later, "The miracle introduces no disorder, but unfolds the primal order, establishing the Science of God's unchangeable law. This law is what Jesus used as the basis for his healings and teachings. He perceived that God is good and that man, His beloved child, is inseparable from Him. It follows, then, that man is inseparable from good--whether this be experienced humanly as food, water, money, or any other form of supply. While we don't have a Biblical record of all of Jesus' prayers, his wonderful demonstrations of God's power make clear that he was able to prove this point. And he expected his followers to do the same. Just as the disciples were finally able to grasp Jesus' teachings and follow him, we too can understand God's law sufficiently to pray for ourselves and for our world. For example, God is omnipresent good, and man, made in His likeness, is completely spiritual. In truth, then, we express spiritual qualities that we get from God, our Father. These include intelligence, peace, joy, love, harmony. Then, in our prayers for the world we can know, for instance, that man expresses intelligence because man is God's perfect idea, or reflection. Since this is so, we can pray to see intelligence expressed where stupidity or bureaucracy may seem to have reigned. For example, I sponsor a child through one of the organizations that help link those who wish to reach out to others with those in need. Not long ago, a mix-up led the organization to drop this child from sponsorship. When I learned this, knowing the many problems the child I had been sponsoring and his family were experiencing, I immediately protested. But my efforts were met with silence and more computer-generated letters. As I prayed about this situation, I realized that I had to know that divine Love, God, is ever present. I knew I could trust Love to lead me--and the people at the agency--to the right solution. We all wanted to help the children. It was only a matter of proving that this unity of spirit cou ld resolve this specific situation. As I continued to pray, I found a way to communicate with the organization that cut through the computer-generated letters as none of my previous letters or telephone calls had done. Before long, I was talking to someone who was able to solve the problem in a way that was wholly satisfactory. Obviously, in this case I both prayed and acted. At other times, prayer may be enough. But whenever we reach out to help another, we do our best work if we are willing to pray first. Like Christ Jesus, we can recognize the good already present in our own or another's experience, and then we can give thanks that God is omnipresent Love. This unending Love is the source of all the good we and the world need. As we increase our willingness to look for it and trust it, we will see progress in our own l ives and in those of the people around the world.
BIBLE VERSE Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life. John 6:35