What is it?

Key Texts: Exodus 16:13-17

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.

Now and then you come across something in the Scriptures that makes you smile.  The passage above has always done that for me.

There they are – the Israelites wandering in the desert in need of food, and not too happy about it.

God miraculously provides.

What do the people call it?  They call it manna – which literally means “What is it?”

That makes me smile.

It makes me smile because it is so like human nature.  There they are in need, perhaps facing the fear of death, and God miraculously provides nourishment.  What do they do?  Scratch their heads and say, “What is it?”

But God (and Moses) were patient.  They instructed the people to trust, and eat, and gather enough for just one day of nourishment, and God would provide for the next day.

Now, some followed that counsel.  Others didn’t, and paid an unpleasant price for their “hoarding.”

The important thing, though, is that God provided the daily sustenance, and those who trusted him, were well cared for as his children.

That, of course, is the lesson we should all take from this little story about a funny food called “Manna.”

God provides.  We don’t need to understand everything about it.  It is enough to trust, in faith, that God lovingly provides – one blessed day at a time.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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