“…and thank you God for the manna I did not like.”
I’m not even sure what else he prayed after that. Those words were just hanging there like a giant neon sign flashing in my brain. You know how it feels when something lands just right and you become acutely aware that you need to pay attention? Yeah, it was like that.
“Those ungrateful Israelites”
I have often read the account of the Israelites’ 40-year journey through the desert and scoffed at their lack of gratitude for God’s provision. Their shoes didn’t wear out for 40 years and their food dropped down from the sky every morning. Seriously? Who wouldn’t be thankful for a great pair of shoes and never having to prepare a meal?? I admit that I have judged them. I would never be so ungrateful…or so I pridefully thought.
Manna. God’s provision. Containing all the nutrition they needed for each day. Amazing, right? But I get it. No one wants to eat the same thing every day. Even as I type these words I am struck by the realization that we have the option to go to a restaurant or grocery store and purchase from a vast selection of foods. Would I be content if this option was taking away from me and I was left with only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of my life? I think not.
How many times have I prayed for God to move, for him to provide, for him to rescue? More than I can count. But when I ask, I am sure that I have a menu in my mind – my options of what I would like that provision to look like.
I am reminded of a Nichole Nordeman song from years ago called “Gratitude.”
Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger’s view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
And if that’s the case…
We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view
If no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread
How often have I looked at my circumstances and decided that God was being silent, refusing to answer my prayers? In longing for provision the way I want it, how many times have I turned my nose up at the way God chose to provide? How often have I valued warmth and security over a hunger and thirst for God?
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matt. 7:9-11 NIV
How many times have I decided what my bread should look like, and then judged God’s provision as stone? Who ever said that I know what is best for me? I did. Who determined the BEST way to transform myself, my children, my domain into Christlikeness? I did. Who defined “bread” and “stone,” “fish” and “snake?” Well, I did. Lord, forgive me.
What if God’s answer to my prayer for dependence upon him is to remove all the things on which I currently depend? What if my prayer for a hunger and thirst is preceded by near starvation and dehydration?
As I look back on recent years of tremendous hardship and emotional suffering I can confidently say that I would not trade what I have gained for anything. Learning to sit in the rubble of devastation, not knowing what may come, yet having the assurance of God’s presence has changed everything. Would I have chosen this way? No. Absolutely not. But do I believe that this path has drawn me closer to God and made me more of the woman he created, redeemed, and is restoring me to be? That would be a resounding, YES!
Father God, forgive me for my pride. Forgive me for deciding that I know better than the Author of all things. Forgive me for judging you and the packages through which you send your good gifts into my life and the lives of those I love. Though I know I will not always like the manna you send, help me to give thanks to the One who knows my beginning, end, and every minute in between; knows the innermost secrets of my heart; and loves me more than I can imagine. For your provision is exactly what I need, when I need it.
One Step Further:
- How have you responded to “manna you did not like?”
- Ask God to show you where you have judged his manna as “stone” or “snake” and write out a prayer of repentance.
- Where are you longing for God to move and answer prayer? May it be that the answer has already come in an unexpected package?