Over the past week, everything seems to have changed. Our daily schedules are different. Our relational connectivity is different. Many of us don’t know what is happening with our jobs, not to mention our worries about physical health. We knew about the Coronavirus before last week, but for most of us, it just made for funny memes on social media. Not any more. Our laughter has changed to worry, and at the heart of that worry we are asking, “Will the Lord provide?” It’s actually an old, old question. So as we wrestle with it, let’s go back and see the evidence of how the Lord has provided for past generations.
Wednesday, March 18th
Passage for Reflection - Exodus 16
Reflecting on the Text:
The Israelites in the wilderness grumbled against Moses and Aaron, but all involved knew they were really grumbling against the Lord. Maybe it was less of an ask and more of a doubt. They wondered, “Will the Lord provide?” Through the miraculous provision of manna, God answered their question, but He also had one of His own. “Will you trust in me?”
This little episode comes rather early in the wilderness wandering. It was midway through the second month after they left Egypt. In that short time, they witnessed the Lord’s power at Passover, in the parting of the Red Sea, and His making the bitter water sweet. Yet after all of that, they began to reminisce about the good ole days back in Egypt…back when they “sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full.”
The Lord heard their grumbling and reminded Moses who they were grumbling against, but in His mercy, He still provided. Miraculously, He gave bread every morning. And don’t miss the fact that the bread tasted like honey! Then, God provided quail in the evening. But there was a stipulation. They were to take only what they needed for the day (or the day plus the Sabbath as the case may be). That was the test.
What was behind the test? The Lord was testing to see if the people would continue to trust in Him even after their temporal need for food was met. Or, would they store up more than they needed for the day in the hopes that they would no longer need? For them, and for us, where there is no longer a need there is a temptation to no longer trust. And maybe that’s where we transition from their day to ours.
How are you doing this week? How is your anxiety level? I don’t mean to expose grumbling, though for some of us that may be the case. But how are you dealing with the questions regarding provision? How are you dealing with unknown time horizons? How are you learning to rest in what the Lord has for you today?
It may be that Coronavirus imposed shutdowns are revealing more heart issues than we were prepared for. Without in any way trying to minimize the pain and heartbreak of this virus outbreak, could we begin to also see God’s work in our hearts through it all? But what might He be teaching us? What might He be teaching you?
There are many lessons we can learn, but for now, let's look at the ones in Exodus 16. Throughout Scripture, we find instances where God’s past faithfulness is put forward as evidence for His present and future faithfulness. In verse 32, that’s exactly what we find. “Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”
In Exodus 16, and in the years which followed, the Lord God provided for His people daily. But in Exodus 16 He also sent a message to us that He would continue to provide for us…daily. He was answering our first question. “Will the Lord provide?” He was also asking the second: “Will we trust in Him?”
Questions for personal reflection:
Where are you asking, “Will the Lord provide?”
Where are you struggling to answer, “Will I trust Him?”
Can you, or will you put words to this struggle before the Lord and before a trusted friend, that through honest and vulnerable confession you might find peace?