I’m pretty sure I would have been one of the ungrateful Israelites when the mana came down from Heaven. I would have been the one complaining why it wasn’t steak getting rained down from Heaven. Why, among all the food of Eden would God pick mana?
Like most people, I have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees, as they say. I wouldn’t see the amazing provision in mana appearing each and every day, literally God providing us this day our daily bread, I would have seen how it paled in comparison to the food I was capable of making in my slave kitchen back in Egypt.
I’ve heard that depression ramps up when all you can do is focus on what was behind you instead of what you have in front of you. It seems the Israelites might have been the first possible clinical study of depression, stuck in the desert, getting their allotment of food from the creator of the universe. Nothing was ever good enough for them. They complained in Egypt about being slaves, waiting for the one who would be sent by God to free them. They then witnessed some of the largest acts of God in the bible; the endless plagues upon Egypt, the preparation of the passover meal, still observed today, the parting of the Red Sea, the guidance by a pillar of smoke and fire. Seriously, these are some pretty big miracles. But it wasn’t enough for them. There they were, stuck in the desert, ungrateful jerks, being held back from their promise due to their disobedience.
I like to think I would have been the holy one, committed to God and to what he was calling us to as a nation, but in truth I think I would have been the chief complainer among the women, recalling all the great stuff we had back in Egypt compared to this barren land, full of the daily food we needed. I would have been the one handing over my gold earrings to Aaron as he looked to craft a gold idol for us to acknowledge as our physical saviour. I would have needed something I could have seen, touched and relied on. I would have been the one condemned to the desert to die while my children would be the ones to embrace the Promised Land of God. Wow, I would have been a barrel of fun to be around.
It’s a drastic example, but I think we need to get honest with ourselves. Sure, the Israelites weren’t sitting down to steak dinners every night, but they were getting everything they needed and it was their own attitudes that kept them from receiving the true gift and promise of a land flowing with milk and honey. How often do I allow my own attitude to strike down what God has for me in the day? How often do I baulk at the way God provides for me on a daily basis, laying my head on the pillow at night with nothing but thoughts of lack drifting through my head.
It’s so easy to look back on these stories and not see ourselves in it. Wow, those Israelites were sure stupid. There they were, in the midst of God’s glory and they built and idol. I’d sure be better than that if only God would bless me in such ways. God is blessing you, in every way, you just don’t see it. How quickly we can place ourselves as the righteous one in history, the one who would have done it all correctly and pleased the Lord. Somehow I just don’t think that’s the case for most people.
People are inherently evil. We are born into a broken world and it is only through grace that we are saved. It takes work to maintain that acceptance of grace in our lives. The grace is always there for us to eat, like mana on the ground in the morning, but it takes a lot of work to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we need the mana-grace to get through our day. Staying humble, staying kind, staying grateful and loving others before yourself takes a heck of a lot of work. It’s so much easier to to just look back at what you had and complain you don’t have it now.
100% I would have been left in the desert to live out my days, never reaching the Promised Land. I know this because I spend most of my time wishing for things past, looking at the past, and have a hard time acknowledging what is right there in front of me. I’m actually slightly disgusted with myself right now, as when I think back to the not so distant past, I can remember only dreaming of the future, looking ahead, wishing for what was to come. I think the Israelites were the same. All they could do in slavery was complain they were still slaves and look to the day God would free them. Once free, all they could do was look back. Depressed.
Satan may be unbelievably evil, but he is not very creative. He has been using the same tactical strategies since the dawn of time. Just keep the people focused on what they don’t have, he says. I don’t care whether it’s what they don’t have yet, or what they used to have, but don’t let them focus on what they have right in front of them. Keep them wanting for what is gone or what is to come. Keep their minds out of today. The exact opposite is the message God wishes for us, be thankful for today, all you have is today, do not worry about tomorrow.
Did I have enough today? More than enough. Did I have reasons to be thankful today? Unlimited reasons. Do I know if the mana will be on the ground tomorrow? It will if I go looking for it.