For 40 years in the desert, God has provided for His people. Many of us have had careers that long. I have. Pastor…financial planner…pastor again…writer. God has provided abundantly for me, even though I have messed up more times than I like to think about or admit. As I said, He has been faithful to me.
Shortly after leaving Egypt, God’s people suffer a memory lapse. They were slaves in Egypt. Hard-work under harsh conditions in a climate that saps every bit of energy and hope. Now free, yet they grumble and complain, whine and kvetch. Numbers 11: 4-6 tells all. Not a pretty sound from those whom the Lord has liberated, led and fed. He gives them ‘manna’ every day. A double portion Friday morning, so they don’t have to work on the Sabbath. Only rest and worship for that special day.
In Hebrew language, ‘manna’ means ‘what is it?’ Could tell they were not thankful from the tone in their voices! Now, it’s forty years later. Moses has died. Joshua is God’s man for Israel. They celebrate a magnificent Passover, reminding them of God’s deliverance from Egypt. The very next day they begin to eat the produce of the Promised Land(Joshua 5). ‘Manna’ ends within a day or two. No more ‘what is it?’ for them! Fruit and vegetables like they had in Egypt, but now as liberated people. Free to worship the One true God!
‘Manna’ for 40 years. Now the produce of the land, that they had worked for. Clearing and preparing the fields, planting seed, caring for new growth, patiently waiting for the harvest. Sometimes this…sometimes that.
Sometimes God needs to carry us as we are weak, broken and fragile. Like a precious piece of Chinaware. He leads us carefully, by the hand, cradling us in His arms, gently and lovingly. Our burdens…on His shoulders.
Sometimes, though, He says to go out, work hard, ‘cultivate your fields’. Struggle through it, deal with it, hang in there, grow up and harvest His provision through your hands and your hard work.
‘Manna’ from Him…one day. ‘Produce of Canaan’…the next. Sometimes this…sometimes that. Praise the Lord… for His care and provision! And strength to work! All from His hands!
Prayer: Oh Lord, we are your grateful people. Whether you carry us or strengthen us to do our work, we know that all comes from you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.