Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Happy Day"1 (Lyrics)
For the people in the Netherlands during what is called the Hunger Winter of 1944-1945, things were desperate. The country had been occupied for almost five years. It was a very cold winter, there was very little fuel left, food was in short supply, and many people were at their wits' end as to what to do. The extreme cold compounded the problem of food shortages. About 20,000 people had died through starvation, with a further 980,000 classed as malnourished.
We lived in a semi-agricultural area, so it wasn't so bad for us, since we had a good-sized garden. Dad kept a couple of goats for milk and their offspring for meat, and Mother had six chickens for eggs. But every day, people from Amsterdam, some 20 kilometres away, would come to the area where we lived, going from door to door, begging for something to eat, anything.
The occupying forces had blocked the movement of all supplies, hence the desperate situation. In retaliation, so I read, for ten days, starting on April 29th, 1945, the allied forces mounted "Operation Manna", flying 3,100 food missions and dropping nearly 7,000 tons of food over the occupied parts of the Netherlands. We saw part of it, as food was dropped near where we lived and was later distributed by the authorities. We received some canned goods and cereals, as well.
Similarly, the children of Israel were desperate for food after only a few days into the desert, having escaped from a life of slavery in Egypt. Some even wished that they had stayed in Egypt. They were quick to complain to their leader, Moses, who then heard from the Lord:
Exodus 16:4a,31 – Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you." And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. (NKJV)
There were certain instructions which had to be followed to the letter, and the people had food again. Through God's providence, their earthly needs were met.
After Jesus fed the 5,000, the people flocked to Him, thinking of more bread, but He encouraged them to do the works of God for food that endures to eternal life — by believing in Him, as the One Whom God had sent.
We are living at a time of great hunger for spiritual food to nourish the soul. There is so much restlessness, anger, disappointment, and unhappiness — we read about it and see it on television every day. What Jesus told the people who were gathered around Him is directed at us as well:
John 6:35 – And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." (NKJV)
How about you? Are you hungry for the Bread of Life? Jesus is saying to us, Come to Me, and I will satisfy your hunger now and always.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the allied forces who fed the hungry on this day 76 years ago. We thank You for the manna that You provided for the Israelites in the desert. And we thank You for Your Son Jesus, the Bread of Life for all who believe in Him. We thank You in His name. Amen.