Real dinnertime blues

Another perspective on ‘what’s for dinner?’

Sometimes I resent making dinner for my family.

I used to imagine I was that person who was gloriously hospitable, that person who just ‘whipped something up’. That person whose kids asked ‘what’s for dinner?’, expecting something magical.

But I find myself staring into the pantry at 5.55pm wondering what I can throw together for dinner. I find myself trying to calculate maximum result from minimal effort. I find myself making tacos, again.

I’m that person.

Perhaps I resent working out what we will eat because I’ve never had to work out if we will eat.

There is an unfolding global humanitarian catastrophe happening while I resentfully make dinner.

As a child, I sat at the dinner table as my parents admonished me for leaving food on my plate because there are ‘people starving in the world.’ I’m sure I have raised the disparity of living standards with my own children in similar ways. As if eating my beans will resolve global hunger.

As if hunger can be reduced to a lack of beans.

There is an unfolding global humanitarian catastrophe happening while I resentfully make dinner.

49 million people are on the brink of catastrophic famine. Famine means more than 30 per cent of children suffer from acute malnutrition, and at least 11 people are likely dying every minute from hunger, now outpacing COVID fatalities.*

It’s life-threatening hunger.

It can feel overwhelming. In fact, it’s quite unpalatable, especially while I’m making dinner.

Still, while I prepare my Tuesday tacos, I find myself asking God to help me comprehend life-threatening hunger, because as a follower of Jesus I am called – as Micah 6:8 says – to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

And I picture a mother. A mother who gave life to her child. A mother whose whole being aches to love and protect her child. A mother who longs to see her child grow and flourish. A mother whose very body God formed to provide sustenance and nourishment for her child.

This mother cradles her child protectively as she endures the unthinkable torment of watching her child die because she can’t nourish or sustain her. Her body and that of her child so lack the nourishment of the earth God gifted to us that life is out of reach.

A brutal and cruel denial of life, turns into a slow, agonising death.

And yet Jesus came that we might know life, and life to the full (John 10:10).

So, as I sit with my family at the dinner table, passing the grated cheese and diced tomato to each other, how do I bridge that gap? How do I sit in such a juxtaposition?

We ask him to remind us that we sit at the table together, as global citizens.

I find that remembering Jesus sits at the table with us, even when it’s tacos, is a good place to start. He is Lord, not me.

And so we say grace, at the table, with Jesus.

We thank him for our food. We ask him to guide us, to provide opportunities for us to be generous and love our neighbours. We ask him to help us be bold, to help us act for change. We ask him to forgive us for when we have been greedy, for when we have found our strength in anything but him.

We ask him to remind us that we sit at the table together, as global citizens.

And we ask him to raise up his followers, for his kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, because it’s God’s story of restoration and provision for the hungry, one he invites us to be a part of.

And that means I can see this meal for what it is, a gift and not a burden, one I pray 49 million people will receive today as well.

For more on how to help fight famine, visit the Micah Australia or Baptist World Aid Australia websites.

Rebecca Oates

Rebecca Oates

Rebecca Oates is the Director of National Engagement at Baptist World Aid Australia.  She and her husband Paul live in Sydney with their four children, who continue to enjoy Taco Tuesdays.