It’s easy to want to mock the Israelites…. “Seriously? You’ve been miraculously freed from slavery and escaped the Egyptian army …and after just six weeks, you’re complaining and longing for the good old days as slaves?” But, if we’re honest, would we be any different? Slavery was awful…but it was familiar. They knew what to expect…how to get through their days. Now, they are out in the desert…no food, no water…what good is freedom if you’re dying? And now they’re wondering..maybe that wasn’t God after all who brought them out of Egypt….maybe it was just Moses and Aaron, and they’ve led them astray? In only a short time, all the signs and wonders have faded in their memories, and they are afraid and doubting God’s presence.
Yes, It’s easy to want to mock them…if only it didn’t feel so darn familiar. Maybe I’m the only one who recognizes myself in these folks. Maybe I’m the only one who all too quickly forgets all the ways God has provided in my life — all the gifts God has given me — and gets worried and frightened when things go wrong? No?
This is a story about God’s continued provision…and our continued fear and worry that we will not have what we need. We will not have ‘enough”.
But what is “enough”? Well…according to God…quail and manna…harvested daily…are enough. In other words, work that provides food to fill your belly for the day is enough. That is God’s provision. That, and a community of neighbors and family to share the work and to enjoy Sabbath with.
That is so incredibly far from anything most of us imagine as enough, that it is almost laughable if it weren’t so tragic. Somewhere along the line, “enough” changed for much of the world — until it meant a big house and more food than we can eat and fancy food, to boot. It means we get college educations and have good jobs. It means eating out and fun vacations and house renovations and lots of toys for kids and grown ups alike. It basically means more stuff than we know what to do with and a hefty retirement savings so we can quit working at some point. That is a good life….I like it. I am blessed to have that life. But, let’s be clear…it is abundance…way more than “enough”. And abundance is a trap, sometimes, isn’t it? Because there will always be something else that we want…something more we imagine we ‘need’….and we have a hard time being satisfied. A hard time simply being grateful for what we have….and we are so quickly devastated if our abundance is threatened.
But it is good to remember that when Jesus taught us to pray… he told us to pray for “daily bread”. For what we need today. To pray that God would meet our needs today. That’s what the Israelites were learning in the wilderness. To trust God for today to provide what they needed….not all they wanted…but what they needed.
I’m thinking that is something we need to learn as well…isn’t it? Because for all the amazing good things that I have in my life…all the wonderful gifts God has blessed me with over the years…I can quickly panic when when my abundance is in jeopardy…when I face a crises. And life is full of crises, as we well know. We all face them — grief and heartbreak…disease and mental illness…violence and conflicts…traumas and failures. None of us will come through unscathed…and our instinct is to worry…to despair…to question where God is…why God isn’t doing something…why it had to happen. Well….to complain. Just like the Israelites. Quickly forgetting the signs and wonders of their liberation from slavery.
But here’s the thing. God understands. And God responds. God is faithful…even when we are ungrateful and fearful. And God provides…..What. We. Need.
God provides….not everything we want. Not the abundance. But what we need. And maybe today, that’s a friend. Or a night’s rest. Or grace to let things go. Or forgiveness for getting it wrong. God provides manna…and sometimes we might not recognize it. It might be unfamiliar…we might say “what is this?” just like the Israelites did. Sometimes God’s provision might not be the life we knew or what we were looking for. But God provides. God sees us. God hears us. And God is with us. God provides…enough for today. Daily bread.
We can trust God…today. Every day. To be with us. To give us our daily bread.
And here’s the thing…sometimes we are the ones God uses to provide Daily bread for others. Sometimes that’s literal — our family supports World Hunger and Lutheran World Relief and Union Gospel Mission and others because there are people whose food and basic needs will only be provided by the gifts of others. Our church supports Local food banks and provides Second Harvest distributions. You might support in other ways.. Sometimes God literally uses us to provide daily bread for others.
And other times God uses us to provide other desperately needed daily bread. The daily bread of kindness, friendship and compassion. Sometimes you are the one who brings a moment of joy … a bouquet of flowers — a walk to enjoy the fall colors — a pot of soup or an encouraging card. Sometimes, you are the one who will help someone lift the burdens off their shoulders and offer grace. Yes, we are part of God’s daily bread provision for each other….even the “what is THAT” folks in your life…are the daily bread God provides for you.
Jesus admonished his disciples often not to worry…but to trust God. The promise was not that life would be a breeze. We know that Jesus’ life was anything but easy breezy. But the promise is…God will be with us. God will see us through. Because God has us. God holds us. And God’s not letting us go. Amen.