By: Staci Stallings
Have you ever wondered about manna? You know the flour-like substance that the Israelites were given to sustain them while they walked in the desert for forty years? I’m kind of afraid I would have been a little like them after awhile. “Is this all there is?”
I know that sounds whiny and not grateful, but the truth is, I know me. See, I’m the kind of person that likes things my way. I have a hard time accepting what is currently happening–especially if what is currently happening happens to be boring, or frustrating, or hard.
Call me crazy. I don’t think I’m alone.
So I can understand the Israelites when they got upset about the manna.
But here is something I didn’t know until recently. The word manna can mean two things, depending on the punctuation used. With a question mark, it’s a question. As in “manna?” As a statement it means basically the same thing except not as a question. Confusing. I know, but stay with me here and you’ll see where I’m going with this.
As a question manna means, “What is it?” Think about this, you’re hungry. You and your family has been walking around in the desert. You’re tired, and you’re beginning to think this whole thing was a mistake. When one morning you wake up, and miracle of miracles, there is something covering the ground. What is the first question you would ask of each other?
That’s right: “What is it?”
That’s the question the Israelites asked when they found the “manna’ on the ground. “Manna” means “What is it?” as a question.
But here’s the thing. Manna can also be a statement. As a statement, “manna” means “what is.”
Every day God gives us “what is.” He gives us “manna.”
Here’s the more profound part. At first the Israelites were thrilled with the manna–what is. They rejoiced for the Lord their God had saved them from hunger and death.
However, that joy and praise did not last. Eventually, as “what is” turned from one day to twenty and then to fifty and then to three hundred and then to six hundred, the people got tired of “what is.” They got tired of the provision God was sending to them, and they began to whine and grumble.
Now maybe you can’t relate to this, but I can.
I pray and ask God for His provision and He sends it. I am grateful… at first, but soon, like the Israelites, I forget about the provision that God sent me and start complaining that I don’t have something else.
With the Israelites, they grumbled that they had no food, and God fed them with “manna.” As the manna continued, they tired of it and complained they had no meat. So God sent meat. Then they complained about water, and God sent them water flowing from a rock.
Were they satisfied?
Of course not. The whining and complaining continued for forty years!
Even St. Paul said the story of the Israelites is meant not as a model for us but as a warning of what not to do!
“What is” in your life that you are taking for granted or out-right grumbling about? Might it be time to return to gratefulness?
“What is” is what God sent–for this time in your life. Do you accept that or fight against it?
It’s the question I’m most wrestling with right now in my own life.