This past year I turned 40. And, for the very first time, I am attempting to read the Bible from front to back. Other people do this in a year. Well, God bless’em. I am puttering along, just now in Joshua, and here is what I came across the other day:
“On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11 The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.” Joshua 5:10-12, NIV
Did you catch it? God does this all the time in Scripture. He drops in quick little one-liners that are chock-full of lessons but, if we’re not paying attention, they will slide right by. It was the part about the manna stopping. That, my friends, is a really big deal.
As soon as I read, “the manna stopped” I thought, “Whoa, hold the phone. The manna’s done? Just like that? How long have these folks been eating that stuff?” Turns out, 40 years. Exactly my age right now.
I tried to think about what it would be like to have God provide in one way for so long, only for it to stop this year. How strange it would be to have something go away so suddenly, and then to have to learn a whole new way of functioning. To have to watch for the new way He is going to provide — and (the really hard part) trust that He is going to.
you lose a parent
you lose your spouse
you lose a child
you lose your job
you lose your friend
you lose your home
you lose your health
when you lose — something that sustained you.
For these Israelites, manna was the only thing they had ever known. It had been a part of their lives for so long that, I suspect, they couldn’t imagine life without it. But, when God made the switch, I want to make sure you catch what happened:
- God provided in both situations. When they were in the wilderness, He provided manna. When they came into another season of life, He provided from the land. Either way, He provided. He doesn’t make or allow changes without provision for His children.
- The provision overlapped. Look back at verse 11. The day before the manna stopped, He had already let them taste the “produce of the land.” This lesson is about far more than food. Often, when we experience a change, we can look around and see where He had already been putting things in place to support us as we transition to a new way.
- The manna may have gone away, but its value did not. The manna was so important in its time. It remains an important part of Biblical history, teaching people as time marches on. We don’t forget the old ways God provided, in fact, we celebrate them. Just as, in time, we will learn to celebrate the new way.
I know so many of us have encountered unimaginable losses in our lives. Ones that left us reeling and saying, “Whoa God, that person/place/job/situation/friend/parent/child/ability sustained me. They helped me live. They provided for me. And, now it’s gone? What now?”
May we hear Him say, “I will provide my child. I am and I always have. I was preparing the support you needed before you even knew this change would come and I will continue to for all your days. The manna was what I gave you for a time. Be on the lookout for the new ways I will love you. I will always sustain you.”
Written in loving memory of the laughter, hard work, fatherhood, brotherhood, friendship, service, and sacrifice of Jake Riner, an incredible provider of so many things.