But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna! ~ Numbers 11:6
READING: Numbers 11:4-6; 18-20
It’s tempting for us to feel smug and superior when we read about those grumbling Israelites. Why I would never have complained if I had been in their sandals! Yet we church-planters, more than most, find ourselves in remarkably similar circumstances and would do well to learn from their cautionary tale.
Consider this. The Israelites ate manna because they had taken an enormous leap of faith to follow God. It felt noble to leave everything familiar behind. Yet they soon found themselves in unknown territory. Sure, they saw miracles all around, but they couldn’t force anything to happen on their timetable. They were reduced to eating the same monotonous food day after day. Sound familiar? On top of that, manna was so humbling, so boring, and so easy to compare against all they had left behind or with all they imagined others enjoying while they suffered on and on.
Financial hardships are a fact of life for most church planters. Like the Israelites we also juggle the grand adventure of faith with the tough times, which, for many of us, include eating mostly humble meals like rice and beans or peanut butter sandwiches.
In the thick of the battle to plant the new church, and far away from home, it’s tempting to complain about the small privations, the friends we left behind or the small irritants of pioneer life. It all depends on the way we look at our version of “manna.” As it says in Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.”
Dear Father, The next time I eat simple food, help me to savor it as heaven’s bread and a gift of grace. Amen.
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