Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’”
While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.
The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”
That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”
The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.
Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”
However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. (New International Version)
Despite the grumbling and complaining, the Lord determined to do good, even though the ancient Israelites in the desert were quite unworthy of it. It is to God’s glory to act according to the divine nature of mercy and grace, unlike the mass of humanity.
What’s more, the Lord not only freely gave, but also provided abundantly for the people – and all they had to do was go out and gather what God so mercifully bestowed. No matter what people do or don’t do, the Lord is always true to character, showing steadfast love.
Most of the people responded with obedience to God’s instructions concerning the manna from heaven. Yet, there were still some who ignored the commands, preferring to act with avarice by hoarding the abundance of food gathered.
A miser collects with a stingy attitude and cruel heart; but the Lord takes it away with maggots, moths, or any other creature God calls upon to correct the erring person. An individual is part of a society that is to be concerned for the whole of their citizens.
Whether hoarding or handing out, everyone is meant to move through an unwanted situation or missed expectation with faith and resilience. The following are three simple phrases to keep in mind and practice amidst the complexity of overwhelming circumstances:
Let it be
Accept the situation as it is and not as you want it to be. Embrace the awkward and uncomfortable. Situations, such as wondering where your next meal is coming from, aren’t helped with grumbling. We need to face what is actually in front of us.
Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. (Hebrews 10:33-35, NIV)
Let it go
Difficult feelings and a more than a few unhelpful thoughts pop up for us when experiencing trouble. Try to see the big picture and consider alternative thoughts. Let go of the disobedient thoughts and bitter feelings.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. (Acts 3:19-20, NIV)
Let it in
Open yourself to God’s Spirit, self-compassion, and cut yourself some slack. You are going through a hard thing. Reflect on what you handled well, and also what you could have done differently.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV)
The process – let it be, let it go, and let it in – is a circuitous path and not a neat linear progression. You will get all your needs met, and so, move at pace that works for you, instead of trying to compulsively gather manna at someone else’s anxious pace.
Let grumbling be turned to gratitude, murmuring to mercy, and complaining to consent. This is the path of resilience.
Heavenly Father, you have promised to hear what we ask in the Name of your Son: Accept and fulfill our petitions, we pray, not as we ask in our ignorance, nor as we deserve in our sinfulness, but as you know and love us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.