Looks like you could use some manna

“Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” (Exodus 16:31)

You remember the story, right? How God kept the Israelites from starving in the desert by sending them free food straight from the sky, every single day? They called it manna which, loosely translated, meant “What is it?”

That’s just cool. And it actually doesn’t sound bad, does it? “The taste of it was like wafers made with honey” – kind of makes me think of Honey Nut Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies with sugar.

It settled on the ground along with the dew every morning. All they had to do was gather it up and prepare it in any one of a number of different ways and they’d have nutritious, filling food. No worries.

In the beginning, the Israelites tried to save some from one day to the next, just in case God didn’t come through. (They were worry warts just like us.) But that didn’t work. If they hoarded it, the manna would get wormy and start to reek overnight. They had to rely on God and scoop it up first thing every day or go hungry.

Theoretically, through this process, not only would they not starve, their faith in God would grow. They would learn to trust Him as their Provider and they would realize that no part of their survival was their own doing.

Of course, if you’ve read the Biblical story, you’ll recall the people got tired of a steady diet of the stuff, especially when that was all they had to eat for forty years. They started griping and complaining and it got ugly. There were birds involved and a “great plague” and … well, you can read about that part in Numbers 11.

But the point is, God gave them what they needed every single day. Fresh. Plentiful. And undeserved.

On one level, God is telling us so much through this Old Testament account about His great love for us: that His love is reliable and abundant; unconditional and wholly sufficient.

He deems this message so important, He reinforces it in other places in the Bible:

  • New every morning (attribute)In Lamentations 3, where He tells us His mercies are new every morning (like manna)
  • In Deuteronomy 8, where He cautions us that “man does not live by bread alone” (like manna) but “by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”.
  • In John 11, where He teaches us to pray “Give us each day our daily bread “(like manna)

But on another level, I think He’s also teaching us something about the way we are to relate to others; about how we, too, can be manna-givers.

There are people in my life I am called to love and some of them are difficult. No doubt I’m one of those difficult people in at least a few people’s lives. (Maybe you can relate?)

What if we were as generous with our love toward those we encounter daily as God was with the manna He rained down on the Israelites? Not holding back and rationing it, not demanding it be earned, just being extravagant with it?

It may be that the tough nuts in our lives don’t need our love the way the Israelites needed food, and there’s a risk that they might just be rude to us anyway, even when we try to do the right thing (the Israelites were clearly that way toward God).

But maybe it’s not so much about giving them what they need but about giving to them out of our need.

  • Our daily need to practice the love of God and learn the discipline of trusting Him by giving away something that feels scarce
  • Our daily need to rely on God for the resources we don’t have and can’t get on our own
  • Our daily need to reach out, even at the risk of rejection.

Then starting again the next morning, asking God to help us shower fresh love on those around us again; and do the same with our patience, our respect, our attention, our forgiveness.

I can tell you this. If I were to start “new every morning” and think in terms of pouring down life-giving manna on other people, imitating our great God and drawing on His unending supply of love, that might change a few things for me. How about you?

Here ya go: I’m sending you some virtual manna today.

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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

8 thoughts on “Looks like you could use some manna”

  1. Ever wonder if any of them ate too much. Walking for 40 years I doubt weight was an issue. Great blog. Just wondering!

    1. That’s a really good point – I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right. They were getting plenty of exercise, plus I’m guessing since manna was made in the Divine kitchen, it was low-fat/low-cal, so not likely that weight gain was a problem. Even so, they grumbled about it, as you know.

  2. These essays and reminders are so timely. Steadfast love is enduring. Wandering 40 years is enduring. Manna I could imagine to be something agreeable with the stomach that has long run, is long running, or long walking the race. Prayer finds a home in long walks and runs, and may manna be food that grows prayer?

    1. I like your observation of the parallel between long wandering and steadfast love. And the nexus between prayer and manna as fuel for long walks/runs. Thank you – you’ve given me something truly lovely to think about, Mike!

Your feedback is welcome!