Reading: Numbers 11:6
I have a confession to make. Sometimes I have these blessings that come my way, but I am not happy about them. I decide that God must have misheard me because He did not send what I asked for. Instead of recognizing that in His wisdom and sovereignty, He is sending me what I need instead of what I prayed for, I complain—loudly and often—about the injustice of it all. I was so relieved to see, right here in the black and white of scripture, that I am not the only one.
In this chapter of Numbers, the Hebrew people have been freed from slavery by God, and led by Moses across the dry bed of the Red Sea with walls of water on both sides of them, then observed their pursuers’ demise. Now, instead of being thankful for their freedom and the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey after having been safely rescued from their captors, they longed for what they had back in Egypt. Back when they were abused and forced to work themselves to death, and threatened and in a constant state of anxiety. They had been fed with food sent straight from heaven— manna, provided to them every day, enough for every person— but they didn’t want it. The manna which looked like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey, which they boiled and baked into cakes, was not what they wanted.
It was what God provided. But it was not what they wanted.
Numbers 11:5 says that the people remembered the fish they had in Egypt “at no cost”, and the cucumbers and melons and leeks and onions and garlic. The beginning of verse 6 says, “But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
They lost their appetite for the things that God provided to them, and they craved the things that they had in captivity. Like the fish “at no cost.” The fish that was paid for with hours of their lives, and blisters on their hands, and constant fear, and the absence of rest. This free fish had cost them everything, but they didn’t see it that way. All they saw was the predictability of captivity. Every day they knew what to expect. What they expected may have been abuse and hard work and oppression, but at least it was consistent. And in return, they had their fish and melons and cucumbers and garlic and onions and leeks. Now in this freedom? They had a moment by moment dependence on God. They had to trust the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They had to trust that the manna would be present every day. They had to trust that bitter waters could be turned into something they could drink. And they had to accept that it would be there when they needed it because they could not store up or plan or prepare.
How many times have I done this? How many times have I looked around in my new freedom and longed for the security of my chains? When you are accustomed to oppression and all of the sudden you have freedom, it becomes intimidating. The wide open possibilities, instead of exhilarating, can sometimes feel overwhelming. The risks that before seemed exciting and manageable now seem like a stamp of certain failure. And so I look around at a whole new world, and I long for the old one. The one that felt safer by virtue of its familiarity even though it was a dangerous place for my soul.
I see a new professional opportunity, and I long for the days when my old opportunity was as comfortable as a pair of broken in sweatpants. I see myself learning to hear God’s voice more clearly for myself, yet I long for the days when instead I could call my mom and ask her opinion or have her pray for God’s guidance for me. I’m seeing the manna everywhere I look, yet I have been guilty of despising this miracle provision because it did not feel as secure as the things feeding me before.
God is shifting my perspective in recent weeks. I can see it, the transition from anger and grief and hurt and fear that comes with new beginnings, turning into a heart of gratitude and expectancy. God is changing my desires, shifting my appetite from the fish and produce of Egypt, to the manna He provides. It has not been a smooth transition, but it is one for which I am so grateful.
I wonder if maybe some of what you see around you that doesn’t look like you wanted it to look and doesn’t taste like you think it should taste might be manna, and if maybe you need God to change your appetite. In His compassion for us He is willing to do just that. Ask Him today to help you to crave the manna He is sending your way more than you crave what you had in Egypt. It might not be what you wanted, but I am confident of this: it is exactly what you need. Everywhere you look, there’s manna. —Amanda