Since thanksgiving should be a part of our lives all the time and not just on Thanksgiving Day, we wanted to share about our ordinary bread.
As the Children of Israel followed the Pillar of Cloud and the Pillar of Fire around a desert, they began to worry about what they would eat. You cannot grow rice in a desert and wheat doesn’t ripen overnight. What were they going to do?
God had the perfect answer. He would send them “heavenly bread” as long as they remained in the wilderness. Now God knew their hearts and also knew what He intended to accomplish in them while they were in the wilderness. That’s why He told Moses in Ex. 16:4 that he would “. . . rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.”
Manna must have been very nutritious and didn’t taste bad. Who wouldn’t like honey flakes with a touch of olive oil? They could grind it or crush it, boil it or bake it. Not a lot of variety, but on the other hand, it didn’t take a lot of their time or attention. They never had to go to market and barter for the best price, they never had to worry about left-overs. They did have to get up before the dew melted and gather all they would need and on Friday they had to get enough for Sabbath too.
The problem with manna was not that it was bad . . . it was just ordinary. God said He would test them with the manna. He wanted to see whether they would do what He said. He only demanded that they obey. All they had to do was to collect the right amount for their family and on Friday collect twice as much. They were not to keep any left-overs and they were not to try to get any extra on the Sabbath. Those weren’t hard rules. . . just ordinary.
What do we do with our “ordinary?” We all have an “ordinary” that we are also tested with. Maybe it isn’t a limited diet, but it could be chores that keep us busy from dawn to dark. Maybe it’s a tedious office job or constant hospitality. Maybe your husband seems very “ordinary” or perhaps it’s your children? What about your co-workers?
Boredom and grumbling tempt us just as much as the Israelites. They wanted some onions, garlic, and leeks to spice up their manna, with perhaps some cucumbers and melons on the side. We may grumble and complain to God about what is ordinary in our lives too. We want variety when He wants us to be content and thankful for the “heavenly bread.”
Our Bible reading and prayer can become just “ordinary.” Manna may have been ordinary, but it was still nourishing. There are times when we don’t seem to be tasting any spice in our devotions, but the nutrition is still there. God fed them with manna for forty years. He will feed us as well.
Our work may seem “ordinary,” too. If we were “back there,” we’d have such interesting things to do. Don’t you remember how exciting it was? Like the Israelites, we forget what “back there” was really like. Remember the bricks, bricks, and more bricks?
What about those friends we wanted, longed for, prayed for? God sent some wonderful people to live nearby. Heavenly friends. How exciting! But after a while we get used to them, maybe even tired of them. Aren’t they still the friends God provided for us in our lonely PW wilderness? Are we still thankful for them? We are tested by our attitudes to those friends God sent in answer to our prayers.
Wherever we live, whatever we do, there is always something”ordinary” that God provides to test us. It will test us just as the manna tested the Israelites. Perhaps remembering that they failed the test will help us to pass our test. The sure sign of a passing grade is a sweet, contented, thankful spirit in the midst of the “ordinary.”