Boiled manna. Fried manna. Mashed manna. Manna a la quail. Manna sauteed. Baked Manna. Raw manna. If there’s a way to prepare manna, my guess is, the people of Israel figured it out. After all, they had a steady diet of the stuff for forty years.
The people themselves didn’t take long to start complaining.
We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” (Num. 11:5-6)
Nothing to look at. Only manna.
Apparently it didn’t occur to them that without manna they would have had nothing. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to them that their “free fish” in Egypt required them to be slaves.
So it is today. We seem so rarely contented. Rather, we live life for the next thing, and the next after that. We want the vacation to Tahoe until we hear about our friend who is heading off to Italy. So we add that to our “Bucket List,” which is nothing but a glorified “I want” list—I want this, I want to do that.
When we own our own home, we complain about the property taxes. We enjoy amazing technology, only to long for the newest gadget now out. We love our cars but can’t wait to trade them in for the upgraded model. Our jobs provide us with the money to pay for food and clothing, but we can hardly wait for the weekend so we don’t have to work. Or for vacation.
Life has become one big stress.
Or has it? Maybe life is not the stress, but we are looking at manna—or life—with dissatisfaction because we want something God hasn’t given us.
We take for granted God’s provision and we even diminish its value because we’re longing for something else—something we had in the past or something we think we’re entitled to in the present.
We replace gratitude with complaining, appreciation for disgruntlement. We disdain the security and constancy God provides in favor of something risky or edgy.
I do anyway. I hate to admit it. God is so faithful, and yet I grow complacent—so unlike Abraham. He considered God’s promises and “did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20b).
I have ample reason to give glory to God, but I tend to think more about what He did not give me rather than what He has given me.
The crazy thing is, some of the things God withholds become things I’m so thankful later on that I haven’t been burdened with. Who knew? Good things can become burdensome.
Let’s take books, for example. Every writer wants above all else to publish her book. But publishing only leads to the need to promote the book and to follow it up with another and another. In short, the very good thing of having published a book grows into a larger requirement, a burden, even.
Perhaps God withholds that good thing—a published book—because He wants to spare that writer the burdens and responsibilities that would come with it. I’m aware, for instance, of a writer who did not receive an expected book contract. While waiting, though, a family member contracted a serious illness which required a great deal of family involvement. How would it have been possible for this writer to navigate the waters of publishing at the same time as meeting the necessities of family life?
Of course, it’s so easy to say, Why didn’t God give the book contract and withhold the illness? No one can answer that for someone else, and sometimes we can’t answer it for ourselves. God simply hasn’t disclosed all His plans. But then, He doesn’t report to us, does He. He isn’t required to check in with us or get our approval to exercise His will.
In reality, He knows precisely what we need. And sometimes it’s not fish. It’s more manna.