By Leanne Friesen
Based on Exodus 16
The Israelites were in the desert, and they were getting hungry and grouchy. They even began to say that things were better back in Egypt! I mean, sure, they were slaves and all their baby boys were murdered – but at least they had meat, right? They cried to their leaders to ask God to provide them with food, and God heard them. He told them that each morning He would provide bread for them to eat. Sure enough, the next day there was an edible substance on the ground that they could make into bread. It was a miraculous provision.
With this gift, however, came some expectations. One of them was that they could not keep the food overnight. Of course, some people didn’t listen. Keeping a little extra in case the next day didn’t pan out makes a lot of sense. I’m a woman with a full cupboard of tupperware – I see the value in keeping some food for later! Those who kept the mannah woke up the next morning, however, to discover that the food hadn’t been saved at all. Instead, it was maggoty and “full of worms.” So that didn’t work.
The question of course is: “Why?” Why would it matter that the Israelites not keep some extra food overnight? Why did God make mannah so that it lasted exactly one day?
The reason was that the collection of mannah was not just about food; it was a community shaping experience. God was using it to show His people what their relationship with Him would look like, and a big part of that relationship was trust in Him. One way they would learn that trust was by starting each day by eating the food God had provided. Each day they would have to wait for the food. Each day they would gather it. And each night they would go to bed taking comfort in knowing they would be okay the next day NOT because there was food saved in the corner just in case – but because God would provide for them just like he had the days before.
I’m not saying that we never plan for the future. What I am saying is that God thought it was really important for the Israelites to learn to trust Him for each day, to start each day remembering that He was looking after them.
It can be hard. Sometimes “enough for today” isn’t enough for me. I would like to know a lot about my future. I would like to know if my son’s school is going to close this year or not. I would like to know if I’m going to get the stomach flu going around this week so that I can better prepare. I would like to know how many people are coming to the kid’s movie night so I can order enough pizza.
I have spent a lot of my life wanting to know. I can think of so many times that I would say “God I could trust you if I just knew SOMEDAY things would work out.”
I wouldn’t mind being single right now if I knew that SOMEDAY I would definitely meet someone!
I wouldn’t mind not having a job if I knew that I’d get one soon!
I wouldn’t mind my sister having cancer if I knew she would get better!
I wouldn’t mind not keeping the mannah if I knew FOR SURE there would be more tomorrow…
But it doesn’t work that way. Because sometimes things won’t end up just as we think they have to in order for them “to be okay.” Instead, we learn to be okay with today. Because God gives us enough for today. Because he will give us enough for tomorrow. Because God says that as long as you are in the desert, I will care for you. And you will be okay because I will be with you on this desert day – not because you know exactly when the desert will end.
And so we pray:
God, give us this day our daily bread.
May bread for today be enough for me.
May I remember that again tomorrow.