3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.
21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.
31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
EXODUS 16:3-4, 13-14, 21, 31, 35
No one really knows what this food from God was. Whatever manna was, it was a life-saving gift from God and was seen as such, certainly at first. After a while, the Israelites got literally fed up with it and complained, ‘If only we had meat to eat!’ Since they ate it for 40 years, it is perhaps not surprising that they hankered after a little variety in their diet.
Discontent is hardly unusual; our culture today thrives on it. Advertisers encourage us to become unhappy with some aspect of our lives (our car or diet or furniture) by suggesting that there is something better and that we need it. Having sold it to us, we soon are persuaded to tire of something else and so the media continue to create and sustain discontent. Yet all that we have comes from God, directly or indirectly, and discontent is a form of ingratitude, a denial of the divine. Monotonous as the wilderness diet may have been, the story of manna reminds us of the commitment to the Israelites’ survival that God made by supplying them with food.
We can learn to giving thanks for God’s provision, not in lip-service but in understanding. The gifts we have, all of which come to us as modem manna, bestowed by God on his ungrateful children.
Lord God, you feed and sustain us in body and spirit. Teach us appreciation and discernment that we may live as those who have received much and who have much to give. Amen