By Jon Wren
They were living in “unprecedented times.” It was their “new normal.” And they were all “in this together.” They were a group of desert nomads wandering in the wilderness with no idea of what would happen one day to the next. Some missed the certainty of the past, others had a mixture of hope and skepticism about the future, but they all were tired and disillusioned with the present.
Sound familiar? Even though the events of Exodus 16 took place among very different people and in very different circumstances than our own, it’s hard not to see some similarities between the struggles of God’s people then and the struggles of God’s people today. Whether it’s something that occurred thousands of years ago or it’s occurring today, nobody likes uncertainty.
In Exodus, God’s people were grumbling. God heard them, and so he provided them with something new and strange—a source of bread so unfamiliar that the word for it, manna, literally means in Hebrew, “what is this?” God’s provision for the Israelites wasn’t a clear and detailed plan for what was next, and it wasn’t an explanation for how everything would work out. God’s provision, instead, was an opportunity to daily put their trust in him despite not having all the answers and not completely understanding what was going on.
In many ways, Christ followers today have the same opportunity that ancient Israel did to daily place our trust in him even when we don’t have all the answers we want or think we need. We do not know how this will all turn out, and we don’t know how long it will take—but we do know we can trust in God’s faithfulness today.
During this Communion, let’s remember that in taking the bread and the cup, we are not only remembering the faithfulness of Christ and his work at the cross, but also the faithfulness of Christ right now and in the future. Jesus said of himself and his mission, “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever”(John 6:58).
Let’s celebrate and remember that Christ’s promises are enough for today and enough for tomorrow.
Jon Wren works with the Office of Civil Rights, addressing the impact of gentrification on school desegregation. He loves history, college football, and once got a ticket for driving too slowly.
Image: Detail of manna raining down from Heaven on the Israelites, an illustration that appeared in the Maciejowski Bible (circa 1250); courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.