I work in a middle school. The life of a middle schooler is extremely different than when we were kids. As educators, we are tasked not only with teaching, but also working through the social and emotional ups and downs that our students experience. Often times I find myself wondering if I am the best person to do that. Yet, everyday when I enter the school, I find situations that are new, strange, joyful, sad, overwhelming, and hilarious, and am given what I need to get the job done.
The Isrealites were also the recipients of such a gift in Exodus 16. They were complaining about wandering in the wilderness because they were lacking food--when they were slaves, they had plenty to eat. The Lord heard their complaints and provided them with manna. Every day, the Israelites were told to gather what they needed, an omer, for the day. The Lord even said that some may gather a lot and some may gather a little, but that it will be enough for them. They were called to do this daily and those who tried to keep part of their omer found it stinking and full of worms the next day. On the 6th day, they were to gather a double portion so they could rest on the Sabbath.
An incredibly wise woman taught me a few lessons about manna that I try to carry daily.
Manna is new every morning.
God’s grace and mercy is new every day and we can’t rely on the mercy of yesterday. If we try to gather too much and save it for tomorrow, it will rot and go bad. We are called to go to the well of mercy everyday.
Take what we need
The Isrealites were given a specific measurement, an omer, to take. Some tents took what looked like a lot and some took little. The mercy and grace God has given you is yours. It is enough for you even though it may not look like enough and looks different. Someone once told me that God has given us, “enough to live exactly how He wants us to live.”
We are called to be content about where God has us on the path of life and know that He will always give us enough to live how He calls us to live.
Trust in the provision
We often think that we know what we need daily, but the Hebrew translation of manna is “What is it?” The Israelites named the bread from heaven manna because they did not know what it was. It says in Exodus that “it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (vs. 31). They had never experienced anything like it, yet for 40 years they were able to eat manna and be sustained. We have to trust that the manna God provides will be filling even though it may not come in a form we recognize. We might think that we know what we need, but the reality is that God may see things differently. We need to pray for the spiritual eyes to see things in a deeper way--the way God sees them. Our prayers may be answered differently than we expect, but we should still find joy in what is given.
If we don’t delight in the answers we receive, then we miss the most important part of the story. God did not give the Isrealites manna because they were hungry. He gave them the manna so they could see God’s glory. The Lord even said to Moses,
“I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God’” (vs. 12).
As we see God working in our lives, we need to see and know that God is the giver of all things and give Him the praise. He will meet use where we are and we are simply called to glory in our Redeemer.
Going into this school year, there are many things that I don’t know. I don’t know the situations I will face, the tears I will soothe and those I will shed, but I do know that I can say with confidence, “Give us this day our daily bread,” because the Lord will. The Father’s love is new everyday and will go with me, even when I think I am in the desert.