I sometimes envy the Old Testament Israelites. As I read through the many narratives of their history in the Bible, sometimes I feel the twinge of jealousy. Even in the middle of the desert, God was visible to them. He led them with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day; they didn’t have to wonder if they were heading the right direction because there, right before their eyes, was their divine compass. When they were thirsty and griping for water, God brought water for them out of a rock; in the middle of a desert, with dry pallets and cracking lips, God provided exactly what they needed in the most unlikely of places. While I don’t covet their doubt or disobedience, I do sometimes crave the literal ways God showed His power to them to fuel their faith.
One particular narrative that strikes this chord for me is when the people of God are living in the desert with empty pantries and God sends them manna to sustain and nourish them. Can you imagine the scene? Waking each morning, in the middle of nowhere, with vacant food jars, and stepping out of your tent to see food on the ground. And not just some food, more than enough for all the people of Israel. It is a startling idea and a mind-boggling image – God provided each day exactly what the people needed, in the exact amount they needed. And He did it every day.
I think the thing about these stories that makes me crave similar demonstrations of God’s provision in my own life is I imagine that if I were to have witnessed and experienced the same scenarios, if these were scenes that my two eyes got to behold, that I my faith would be firm. Even if I could just see one of these miracles, stand in the background of just one of these events, my heart is convinced that my faith wouldn’t waiver again. I have convinced myself that I wouldn’t need to reorient myself to the truth because it would be permanently affixed in my heart; I wouldn’t need to perpetually ask for trust like a broken record because I could always call the reality of God’s powerful demonstration to mind.
But here’s the thing about manna: it spoils every day. Even manna, the divine provision of a good and kind God, went bad overnight. In His kindness and compassion, our Lord arranged His provision in such a way that His people couldn’t store up for the next day. Being the good God that He is, He made the manna spoil in their food jars. In His sovereignty, He made them go out every morning and receive His provision anew.
And I wonder if that was just as much a part of God’s provision as the manna itself. Could it be that it was just as kind of the Lord to give them this strange bread as it was to make them gather it on a daily basis? Because He knows us. He knows us! He knows our hearts are faulty and our faith waivers. He knows that no matter what signs, wonders, miracles, evidence, or displays of His power we see, just give it 24 hours, and we’re back where we started, wondering about whether or not He is good, kind, powerful, and faithful.
I’m in a season of faulty faith. I have been asking God to provide in a particular way, and I have not yet seen that provision. What is harder is that I can’t see how He will provide; I don’t see a means or method or manner in the near and realistic future. There are mornings I wake up and wonder where His provision will come from. My instinct is to look back at His grand displays of provision in the past, and to ask Him for a grad display for the future. But even as the prayer is on my lips, my heart gives me away: I wake each morning to spoiled faith and trust that has rotted overnight.
And so I need to gather faith each morning like manna. Instead of banking on a single instance of trust, a unique display of His power, a particular manifestation of His goodness, I need to go out in my desert each day and find the portion of provision He has given for the day. I need to gather faith daily, rest in the trust it affords, and then get up and gather some more in the morning. I need to look for His provision of faith, for His portion of provision for the day, and receive it as enough for the moment. And when I wake again, finding my heart still damp with the dew of doubt, I will go out and meet Him, and ask for another single portion of faith for the day.
Here is my resolve: today I chose faith, faith for today. And tomorrow I will do the same. Until He walks me into the Promised Land, I will take His provision for the day, and rest in knowing He will provide again tomorrow.