"Like the wandering Israelites who had nothing when they awoke, but knew God would shower them with honey-flavored bread in a moment, I need to trust that He will provide."

This month alone I’ve had multiple conversations with coworkers, friends, and my roommate about the possibility of me living in my car or the abandoned shed in the graffitied parking lot across from my office. With a cheap gym membership, I could shower and change before heading into work and no one would be the wiser. Between the rising cost of living in general and the ability for most of our Los Angeles landlords to raise our rent whenever they like (pity us, the non-rent-controlled!), the stresses of choosing an urban life are heavy and plentiful. Anxiety about where next month’s or next year’s rent, bills, healthcare, and even groceries will come from abounds. Even the few Angelinos I know who seem to always have lots of money still struggle with anxiety. Will our kids grow up okay in the city? Will we be able to keep up with our fast-paced jobs? Will our bosses appreciate our hard work? Will our spouses still love us if we don’t get to see them as often as we like? Will we even get spouses in a city of people who embrace their single status? Will our health last as we breath in pollution and eat fast food? Will our friends be able to live happy lives here? Will the lost and hurting of this metropolis ever find help? Will we ever find contentment and joy in this tough environment? It is easy for my mind to spiral into this type of thinking and come out panicking or depressed.

I love Los Angeles quite passionately and, for many reasons, am pretty sure God has chosen this to be my home for this time in my life. Still, I find myself freaking out and doubting that, asking questions and considering leaving everything, my job, friends, and church, and moving somewhere cheaper, slower, quieter. But I’m not doing that because I think God wants me somewhere else. Again, I’m pretty positive I’m exactly where He wants me at this moment. I’m just allowing my doubts and fears and lack of faith overwhelm me. I’m grumbling and complaining, and very afraid.

In the midst of this time, we as a church started going though the Old Testament and I found myself identifying with the Israelites as they crossed the wilderness. In my younger days, I would judge them, look at them as an ungrateful, foolish, short-sighted people who only complained and took God for granted. And while that might be the case, I now understand why they felt that way a little bit more. In Exodus 16, we see a people who left slavery in Egypt after grand miracles were done on their behalf in front of their own eyes. They witnessed the power of God in a hugely tangible way; they were delivered and rescued. But then, they wandered. For a month and half, they walked, on foot, through the wilderness and they began to lose sight of what God had promised them.

I realize that I probably wouldn’t have made it even a month and a half, I mean, a couple weeks in heat or exhaustion and I’m the grumpiest person around. The food was running out, they feared their children might starve. They looked at their lives and started to worry about the future. They began to question their decision to follow God’s call to leave Egypt because at least they’d had food. They started to grumble about their leaders whom they previously had thought were so wise, and even began to wish they were dead. I know, this sounds extreme, but a lot of us have been there. Mornings when we’re so stressed out that we kinda just wish we wouldn’t wake up. Moments after reading an e-mail or letter where we find ourselves just praying for the Lord’s return so we don’t have to deal with its contents. We are not so different from the Israelites in times of trouble, you and I.

And in this moment, instead of chastising or abandoning them, the great and powerful God of the universe who delivered them from slavery rains down bread from heaven. How generous and loving is He, more patient than we could ever imagine! And yet, this manna is given to the Israelites with specific instructions. They only get enough for each day, that’s it. Nothing for tomorrow or next week, just enough for each family member each day. On weekends, God has them gather enough for that day and the Sabbath, still giving them a day of rest in the midst of their journey. This daily reliance on God for sustenance caused the people to have to turn to Him each morning, to look to Him as their only source of survival.

What a beautiful metaphor for how we should be relying on God. Daily, we should be looking to Him to get us through. We should wait with hopeful anticipation for the sustenance that He will give us. We should rely on His promises and not start to rely on other things like ourselves, our plans, or our jobs.

Now, when my mind starts to spiral as I consider all the possibilities of what my future in this city might bring me, I try to take those thoughts captive and turn them skyward. Like the wandering Israelites who had nothing when they awoke, but knew God would shower them with honey-flavored bread in a moment, I need to trust that He will provide. Instead of doubting where I am and yearning for the past, I must trust Him to get me through each day. Rather than worrying about my future, I must remember there are seasons in life when He gives me each day only what I need and no more.

We need to become a city of Christians who live each day with a manna-mindset. Instead of rose-colored glassy views of the past or panic-attack afflicted fears of the future, we need to rest in the certainty of God’s daily provision and find peace and joy in that moment. Then do it again the next day, and the next.

Bread from Heaven

Exodus 16

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. And the LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.

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. 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.’” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.” As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)

Fawn Kemble

Fawn currently works as the Client Services Director at a local pregnancy center and serves Cornerstone in the Biblical Counseling ministry.

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