The Israelites were in the wilderness. They were hungry with no food in sight. They complained and despaired that they would die of starvation (Exodus 16:2-3). Evidently, the Israelites did not consider God for their welfare. Yet, they had only recently received God’s providential care with their safe passage on dry ground through the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. They rejoiced in song and dance, praising God (Ex 14:5-15:21). Yet now, in their hunger, they did not look to God for help.
God knew the Israelites’ immediate plight, and rained manna for them – “It is the bread that the Lord has given them to eat” (16:15). God also knew they had a greater fundamental need – to learn to trust Him to provide for them, one day at a time. He instructed them to gather enough manna for each day, no more, no less (v. 4). However, some did not trust that God would give again the next day. They kept some for the following day, but the stale manna rotted and stank, and became inedible (v. 20).
What about us today? Would we find it easy to be reliant on God, and trust that He would provide again for tomorrow? Would we trust in Jesus Christ, the bread of life (John 6:35), to sustain us in our journey till we reach our eternal Promised Land? Would we heed His counsel “not to be anxious about tomorrow; but to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:25-34)?
Like the Israelites, we too need to learn to trust God to provide for our daily needs. The place where God can thus nurture us, is in our devotional time with the Lord through His Word and in prayer.
As we do and obey His Word (c.f., Ex 16:4), we will increasingly learn to see God at work in our lives, and learn to trust Him for our needs. We learn not only in our personal devotion to Him, but also in discipleship and service in the community of believers for His kingdom’s sake.
The trials in our lives in this fallen world, be they personal, in sickness or in need, at work, or at home, are also places where God can nurture and strengthen our faith and trust in Him for both our physical and spiritual welfare. As Charles Spurgeon observes, “Perhaps the only way in which most men get their faith increased is by great trouble … Look at the old oaks; how is it that they have become so deeply rooted in the earth? … It is not the April shower that did it, or the sweet May sunshine, but it was March’s rough wind.” Trials in my life have indeed been places where my faith and trust in God deepened.
I must however add that trusting God does not mean letting go our God-given responsibilities to work for a living and to take care of ourselves and others. It means that we are never alone. God is our ever-present help in times of need (Ps 46:1), whatever our circumstances. Are we partaking the bread that the Lord has given us to eat, or are we struggling with no time for God? May we persevere in devotional time with our Lord, and let Him nurture and root us to be reliant on Him to give us our daily bread, and trust that He will again give us what we need tomorrow.
Lee Yoke Kwang