Thursday, January 22. Deuteronomy 8:1-10
Have you ever been really hungry, or really thirsty, and then got to eat or drink?
When I played football in high school we would have three practices a day for two weeks in August, before school started. August can be brutal in Minnesota, especially after a long day of wearing football equipment and running so hard you feel sick.
My favorite moment on those days was when the coach would yell, “Water!” We had a long piece of PVC pipe on a stand that had holes drilled in it. It was attached to a hose and the water would shoot in all directions out of those holes. That water was the best tasting water I have ever experienced. I was so grateful for it.
Why was I grateful? Why did it taste so good? It was just water from a hose. It tasted so good because of the hard work I had just experienced. I was hot, tired, and thirsty, so I was grateful for that gift of water.
The people of Israel, in our reading today, had just spent forty years wandering in the desert after God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. They were hot, tired, and had eaten nothing but manna that whole time. Now they were about to enter into the land of Canaan that God had promised their ancestor Abraham. Once they got to Canaan they would have cool, fresh water and all the food they could imagine.
God gives them a warning. God says, “Don’t forget the long road that brought you here.” In other words, remember that God kept you alive while you were in the desert. It is not the food and water of Canaan that will make you special, it is the fact that you are my children and that I support you, no matter what. Yes, the water will taste good, but only because of what you’ve been through. As soon as you think you deserve it and that you have the good water and nice food because you are better than everyone else, that is when it will turn sour on you.
Then we read the words that Jesus quoted in our main text for the week in Matthew 4:1-17. “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Jesus had been fasting for forty days. He was hungry. Yet, he knew that giving in to Satan’s temptation to make bread and prove himself would not be a satisfying meal.
Here’s the lesson for us today. Don’t take all the good stuff that you have for granted. Your food and drink and comfort is a gift from God, it is not a right, and it does not define you. Remember the long road of pain and discipline that brought you to this place: the sacrifice made by your parents, your ancestors, the people who have died to give you freedom; Jesus, who gave his life for you.
God is our bread. Nothing more. When we see life through this lens, then we can be grateful for all we have and be willing to freely share it with others in need. Remember the long road today.