Daily Bread: Faith When Things Fall Apart

I didn’t grow up saying the Lord’s Prayer, either in church on Sundays or on my own. I knew it, of course –-I could recite it if called upon to do so—but it was not a part of my spiritual life until about a year ago when I started reading morning prayers from Shane Claiborne’s Common Prayer on a regular basis. Each morning’s liturgy includes a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

For the past few weeks we’ve been attending an Anglican church here in Columbia and the Lord’s Prayer has a place in the Anglican liturgy as well.

“Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name,” we pray. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

And then, “Give us this day our daily bread,” And this is where I get stuck.

About two months ago I wrote this post about provision. I wrote about how I wanted to whine and complain about all of the unknowns in my life, but when I took a break from whining, I really could see God’s hand and his provision in the way the pieces were coming together for us as we prepared to move.

I clung to those signs of provision. I strapped them on like a life preserver, protecting me from all that was still unknown. We arrived in Columbia buoyed by the things we did know – we had a great condo lined up, Jonathan was starting classes right away, and I had 4 or 5 freelance jobs in the pipeline ready for me to pursue. There were still a lot of questions, but these things gave us confidence that everything would fall together in the end. Instead, things fell apart.

A week after moving into our condo (and painting and decorating and getting it set up the way I’d imagined in our months of kooky Korean wallpaper and windowless rooms) we got a call from our landlord. The condo had been listed for sale for several months before they leased it to us and someone who had viewed it previously had put an offer on it. Just one week into our one-year lease they were asking if we could please move out. We did some negotiating and came to an agreement that feels fair to us, but this still means we will have to find a new place and move out of our beautiful condo within the next three months.

Before arriving in Columbia, we decided that I would take the month of September to try to make freelance writing work as my primary source of income. If things weren’t coming together by the end of September then I’d have to take whatever random job I could get. I had worked diligently for the past five months in Korea to make connections and pursue opportunities. I even took a contract job back in April for a company who paid me abysmally and juggled working for them with teaching full-time in an attempt to gain the experience I needed to work for a better company I’d been in contact with. I worked every connection I could think of and came to Columbia with 4 or 5 solid leads. I figured even if they didn’t all pan out, a few of them would, and this would be a great foundation to build on. We arrived and I started making phone calls, “I’m here now and available! What do you have for me?” And one by one the doors closed.

Now we are more than halfway through September and I’ve managed to scrounge up a grand total of 4 hours of consistent work/week. (Which would be spectacular if only I made $100/hr). I spend most of my days looking for and applying to jobs (freelance, part-time, and a few full-time) and while I’ve had several prospects, so far nothing has panned out. The more desperate I become the less picky I am about what I apply for and the more I feel like I am just whoring myself out for jobs I don’t even want. Each day that passes I struggle more and more with feelings of worthlessness and I end most days heavy with discouragement and with fear. I reach the end of another unsuccessful day and I am bombarded with the fear that I will not be able to provide. That we will run out of money. That my husband will have to drop out of his program –the one thing he’s ever been really passionate about– because I have failed him.

It’s hard not to feel like I was wrong about provision. Like I wanted to see God’s hand in this so badly that I squinted until I could convince myself it was there. It’s hard to feel like I can trust him when he seems to be all about taking things away.

And yet. Within a week of arriving here I was invited to join a women’s Bible study led by the friend who helped us so much with finding our place here. I went to meet people, even though the phrase “Women’s Bible Study” usually makes me want to throw up a little. And what I found was a group of women who are willing to be real.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had five separate women from that group text me, call me, take me out for coffee, or invite me to their homes. They have sent me leads on jobs and a new place to live. And last week when I arrived at the church they had brought bags of groceries from their own homes to help fill my pantry. If that’s not grace, I don’t know what is.

It struck me this week that this phrase I pray so often, “daily bread,” is, well, daily. It is not “Give us this day everything we need for the next five years,” or even, “Give us this day enough bread to last for the next month.” It is asking God for enough for today. And it is coming back to Him, needy, each new day.

So while I can’t always seem to muster up the faith to believe that God will provide an income and a new place to live, or even a final resolution to this ear infection I’ve had off and on since July, maybe all that is required of me is enough faith for just one day.

Give us this day our daily bread.

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24 comments

  1. Great post & I can tell you from personal experiences, that the Lord is going to take care of you and your family! I began writing prayer requests and answers to those and it has helped my faith to grow considerably. I will put you and your family on my prayer list and wait to hear the answer!

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  2. Yes. One day at a time. One step at a time. This is a stretching time for you, and stretching hurts, sometimes….having our faith-rubber hit the road can be challenging. But as you say, we are to come to God each day asking for the “bread” for that one day. God knows what you need, for today.

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  3. ‘It’s hard not to feel like I was wrong about provision. Like I wanted to see God’s hand in this so badly that I squinted until I could convince myself it was there. It’s hard to feel like I can trust him when he seems to be all about taking things away’
    This quote, and the paragraph toward the end about daily bread being…daily – they are both real words to me this very day (and many of the ones before). Thank you.

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  4. Thanks for sharing Lily. Things sound pretty rough right now but I know you will pull through. I love your writing; it’s beautiful, vulnerable and encouraging. May God provide your daily bread and may you find peace

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  5. Well, what to say when words can do so little… Keep up your faith, be strong. Gods ways are mysterious, but in the end He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. שלום עליכם! (Shalom aleichem, peace be upon you)
    ‭‭

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  6. This reminds me of “it fell apart so something better could fall together.” It is SO very hard to trust that God has something better for you when your plans are not working how you had planned them to, but… it will all work out the way God planned.
    Thank you for being so open and honest in your post- I was hooked until the end of your post!

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    1. Ooh. I really like that saying. It is really hard right now. I know these are totally “first world problems” and I don’t mean to be over-dramatic, but I’m a believer in embracing where you are and leaning into your feelings instead of trying to cover them up or wish them away. Thanks so much for reading and for your encouragement!

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  7. Thanks for sharing this! All I can say is I read this and felt like screaming’ MEE TOO!! We’re in a similar situation. We moved back to the states from South Africa so that my husband could go to grad school. Since arriving, I’ve been working part-time online for the ministry in SA, but it’s not enough, so I’ve been looking for freelance stuff which is lots of hunting and hunting, and little follow through. (Because of course you should always write for free :P) I refuse to drop this online job, but there’s hardly any quality part-time jobs around there to make up the difference. Then I totaled our car ;P We hiked El Camino before coming to the states, and for some reason, it was so much easier to trust God’s provision when we only had our backpacks and were only worrying about one day ahead of time. In “real life” it’s harder to keep that same trust. So thanks for sharing, and hang in there!

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    1. Wow Steph. Sounds like we are almost exactly in the same boat. I think one of the hardest things about being in this position right now professionally is feeling desperate for work, but also wanting to maintain my integrity and sense of self-worth by NOT writing for free (because you are so right, people always want to give you the least they possibly can get away with) and being confident about my rates and how much I think my work is worth. And you are SO right about the part-time job market being really slim pickings. I completely get what you’re saying about how sometimes its’s much easier to trust provision out hiking or doing something that feels a little wild and risky, but so much harder to trust that he will sustain us in our everyday, ordinary lives. Sorry to hear about your car being totaled. Glad you are OK! Praying that we both can see God’s hand and have faith in his provision even on the days when we’re focused on the “not enough.” (PS – Where are you living?)

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      1. I just resonated SO much with what you wrote. 🙂 We’re in Stephenville, Texas. It’s 2 hours west of Dallas… and it’s called the cowboy capital of the world. This is not a joke. 😉 There’s pretty much the university and that’s it. Oh, and last night the air mattress (we were sleeping on while we searched for a bed) popped. So we slept on the floor. Haaa. I just want to laugh and cry at the same time. Thanks for prayers and I”ll be keeping you in mind, too!

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  8. Hi Lily! I just got caught up on your blog posts; things have been crazy for me since I started grad school. I’m so sorry to hear how tough things have been–I just can’t believe that about your condo. Our positions are sort of reversed. I’m in grad school and Tim is trying to find enough freelance work to keep us afloat. But neither of us has been paid since the end of August, and things are getting tight. It’s especially hard for me since he gave up his Ph.D. to support me through mine; I just hate to see him doing things he doesn’t really love to do.

    I love the shift that comes partway through this post: “And yet.” Things are hard, AND YET there are evidences of God’s work, provisions he gives to sustain us through difficult circumstances. The “and yet” doesn’t erase or whitewash the hard parts. Life is hard, and yet God is still sovereign and still good.

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