It's late in the day and you have just been through one of the most harrowing life-tumbling roller coaster rides you've ever experienced. You're exhausted. Your body hurts, your head aches, your emotions feel as fragile as handmade paper. You just want to curl up and shut the world away for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep but worry keeps you from doing so. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. The last several weeks have been tough, and you're not sure when true relief will really be in sight. The uncertainty of what's ahead is overwhelming sometimes to handle and you wonder what's going to happen to you and your family. But right now, the thing you're worried most about is when your next meal will be.
Probably none of us have experienced as many challenges as the Israelites did once they left Egypt but I think we've often felt the same emotions as they. Worry, uncertainty, wonder, a sense of hopelessness, a feeling of unsure footing.
Life can be pretty bewildering at times, can't it? It can be hard to believe that God is paying attention. But He is. We can look at the Israelites story to know that.
In Exodus 16 we find God's people in their second month of travel after leaving Egypt. They're in the wilderness and there is absolutely nothing around. No gas stations, no fast food places, not even a rest stop. They've walked for days with nothing in their stomachs and Egypt's all you can eat Cairo buffets are starting to look pretty good again. Forget the little fact about slavery and bondage as the price of admission; at least in Egypt they weren’t constantly hungry!
They share their complaints with the leader of this guided tour, Moses, and they make it clear that his comment card is about to get really bad reviews.
"Why didn't God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all
the bread we could eat? You've brought us out into this wilderness to starve us
to death, the whole company of Israel!" (Exodus 16:3-The Message)
But God hears their griping and like the patient and kind father that He is, He answers their cries for help.
That night a flock of quail descends on the camp. Roast quail is quickly fired up in every campfire kitchen and stomachs feel fuller that night than they have in a while. The next morning, the families roll out of bed and to their astonishment, find little thin manna cakes all over the ground. They cautiously pick the flaky bread up, examining it. Man-hu, they ask. What is it?
Moses reminds them. It's God's provision. Once again He met their needs.
We have really short-term memories, don't we? It has been less than two months, less than eight weeks, less than 40 days, and the Israelites have already forgotten the miracles they've witnessed. They’ve had an up close view of God in action and they’ve already let it slip. He brought them out of Egypt by sending Moses to persuade Pharoah to let them go. And then when Pharoah changed his mind, God parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to cross, and preventing the Egyptians from following. They were dying of thirst and God gave them cool flowing water to drink. But none of that mattered once the hunger pains set in.
They hadn’t yet learned to look for the manna.
I confess I am no better sometimes. After all of the miracles I have witnessed in my 30-some years, the interventions I have seen first hand from God in my life, the blessings He's poured out, there are many times I too am complaining of hunger pains - not the physical, but the emotional. Like a child, I'm wanting something. Instant reaction. Instant gratification. Instant supply to my whiny demand.
I need to be quiet. I need to listen. I need to look.
There is no reason to fret. Instead, I need to lift my eyes to the sky. Expect the manna to fall.
We can do this when we remember the manna that has fallen before. Just like the Israelites should have remembered the massive waters of the Red Sea parting and lifting like waves on heavenly pulleys, so should we remember when God has saved us from ourselves. Or provided when we needed it most. Or orchestrated a blessing completely undeserved.
The manna that we will find in the morning may not look exactly like we thought it would. It may not come at the exact time we believe it should. But we can, without doubt, without hesitation, without exasperation, be certain that it will come eventually.
So ask yourself today - where has God brought you manna? Can you name the ways He has walked beside you? It could be something as little as a stranger opening a door for you at the exact moment you needed to see kindness, or as big as a bill being paid off that you had unceasingly prayed about. Take a moment and write some of these manna moments down. Remember them and thank God for them.
By remembering, we can then more easily expect fresh manna to fall.
Photo Credit: Philerooski via Compfight cc