Have you ever asked the question, “Why?” Perhaps, you’ve asked it this way, “What’s the point?” I run into this question a lot as I interact with people, and as I reflect on my own life. Somewhere along the way we picked up the idea that life has meaning and that life is heading toward some sort of promised fulfillment. Sometimes it is hard to believe that to be true when we go day after day, wandering through arid spaces of mundane routine, or overly-busy, stressed out lives. “Why am I doing this?” “What’s the point?”
I think the people of Israel were asking those kinds of questions in our text this week. We find them grumbling and complaining in Exodus 16:1-18. Can you blame them? It had been six weeks since Moses had his cosmic showdown with Pharaoh. After 10 plagues and the death of his firstborn, Pharaoh finally relented and let his slaves free (and with them his economic security and Empire!). Now, the people were out in the desert with no food. They were hungry, they were scared, and they had very little reason to trust this guy named Moses.
Who was Moses, anyway? He grew up in the palace, so he had no idea what it meant to be a slave. He murdered someone and ran away in fear, hiding for 40 years, so he’s obviously a coward. Then he shows up and says that God talked to him in a burning bush. Yeah, right.
The only glimmer of hope the people had to go on was an ancient story about a promise that a god made to their ancestor Abraham. Some nation they had become! It is hard to eat a promise when all you see around you is hot sand.
They were hungry and skeptical. Of course they grumbled. They were about to lose hope.
Have you ever felt that way? What do you do about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings.
God provided them with a daily provision of bread–manna–and meat. What do you think this “manna” is for us today? And, how do we get it?