I’ve never had to wonder where my next feed would come from. For as long as I can remember the low growls of hunger have been quickly satiated by a stocked refrigerator and pantry brimming with snacks. Hunger is not a pain I have felt acutely, except for when I wait too long to eat or am too busy (or lazy) to walk the five feet to the endless supply of food to meet my needs.
But I have felt the hunger pains of another.
Feedings have always been a source of anxiety for me as a mother. From the early days of the twins’ life, I cried as they struggled to eat on their own, only to be met with exhaustion from working too hard, causing them to choose sleep over food. Every meal matters for premature babies, but sometimes eating is just too overwhelming when you weigh five and six pounds at six weeks old. So I struggled and cried and pumped and cried. With each finished bottle we rejoiced. With each minute spent hovered over the kitchen sink washing pump parts and bottle parts, I quietly prayed I would never have to do this amount of work to feed my little people again. With each feeding I hoped in weak, new mother desperation that these ounces of milk would fill their hungry bellies and put fat on their little bones.
Over time it did. Over time they grew. Over time they enjoyed eating. Their desperate cries for food grew less frequent, and I started to forget what it was like to experience the hunger pains.
And now we have Seth.
Seth, who came out with a knife and fork (as the pediatrician likes to say). When you are nearly nine pounds at birth, your feeding situation is far less dire. But I’ve been reminded again of the desperation I felt in those early days with Luke and Zach.
While I’ve never been in want for food, I have held a baby who has forgotten that food will come if he will only calm down, trust his mother’s care, and receive it. I may not have to beg God for my daily bread to come down, but I do regularly find myself praying for daily bread to come through me for the well-being of my baby.
Like so much of motherhood, feeding Seth is an exercise of faith. I’m reminded with every feeding that the same God who cares for the sparrows, cares for my baby. The God who waters the plants with rain from above, also provides food for image bearers like my son. “Give us this day, our daily bread,” I say quickly in a prayer, yet I fret and forget my hurried prayer when Seth doesn’t seem to get what he desperately needs through me—his only source of the daily bread I just prayed for.
God is in the business of stripping us of every ounce of perceived strength and self-sufficiency. So while I stare at my full refrigerator and basket full of groceries and think I’m not in want for food, I am brought to my knees in weakness when the most needy people in my life cry out in hunger and I don’t have the energy or supply to give it.
Like every weakness God gives us, this is a call to trust in the God who sustains everything, who is upholding the universe by his very word. The God who spoke everything into existence, made manna fall from heaven for the Israelites, and opens blind eyes calls me to trust that he will sustain my baby through me.
“Give us this day, our daily bread,” I pray again. “And give us our milk, too”