For the average person, this day and age aren't characterized by affluence or luxury. Many people across the country are experiencing trouble simply sustaining their way of life; the prices of basic necessities are on the rise and the bills keep rolling in. For some, a single medical emergency or work-related setback may throw off their financial well-being for months — or even years.
Money troubles have a way of infecting other important areas of life and health. Oftentimes, the worry, anxiety and fear that accompany financial struggles can impact your mental and emotional health — and, before long, your physical and spiritual health as well. In such trying times, even the strongest and most steadfast believers may find themselves distressed and unsure of their future.
The Israelites found themselves feeling similarly in Exodus 16. Read on to learn more.
You may have learned the story of the exodus in Sunday school as a child — or, at the very least, the first 15 chapters of it. The Hebrews are living as slaves in Egypt, oppressed by a ruthless Pharaoh, when the Lord speaks to Moses through a burning bush. For 40 years, Moses has lived as an exile in the land of Midian after murdering an Egyptian who struck a fellow Hebrew. After reuniting with his brother and sister, Moses confronts Pharaoh and demands that he free the Lord's people. When Pharaoh refuses to let the Hebrews go, God responds with the 10 plagues.
The tenth and final plague ends in the death of Pharaoh's firstborn son, and he practically orders the Hebrews out of Egypt. "Get out immediately from among my people, you and the Israelites, and go." (Exodus 12:31) However, he quickly experiences a change of heart and pursues the Hebrews with 600 of his best chariots (14:7). The Lord parts the waters of the Red Sea, allowing the Hebrews to cross the gulf on dry land and swallowing up the Egyptian army behind them. At last, as they enter the Sinai peninsula, the Israelites are a free people for the first time in generations.
However, their rejoicing and praises to God for his providence didn't last long; by chapter 16, the Israelites had already regressed into grumbling and complaining. "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the meat we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!" (16:3)
Perhaps you've experienced moments like this in your own life. Sometimes, even in the midst of God's deliverance and all his blessings, human nature has a tendency to make you focus on that one area of your life in which you're still lacking or experiencing hunger. Even in the midst of Israel's blatant ungratefulness and lack of faith, the Lord still provided; in verse 4, he tells Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions."
When Moses brought this news to the people, he admonished their grumbling and ungrateful behavior. "In the morning, you will see the Lord's glory because he has heard your complaints... For who are we that you complain about us?... Your complaints are not against us, but against the Lord." (v. 7-8) In the midst of the trials, fears and worries of your day-to-day life, sometimes you have to take time to step back, look at the big picture and remind yourself who your God is; if you start to complain, try to catch yourself in the act and ask yourself, "Am I complaining against the Lord while surrounded by his blessings?"
Another interesting thing to consider about this passage is how God directs the Hebrews to only gather as much as they need for that day. In times such as these, it's all too easy to develop a "gimme, gimme, gimme!" mentality, but the Lord has made clear throughout his Word that this is not how he wants his people to live. Perhaps Jesus said it best during the Sermon on the Mount: "Don't worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink... Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? If God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he do for you — you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:25, 27 & 30)
True to his promise, God provided the manna that became his people's primary source of sustenance for years to come throughout their wanderings in the wilderness. Every morning, the Hebrews gathered so that "none had any surplus or shortage; each gathered as much as he needed to eat." (Exodus 16:18) Additionally, he provided meat in the form of quail every evening unfailingly. (v. 12-13)
Biblical stories such as these serve as an excellent reminder that while human nature hasn't changed, neither has God. If you find yourself in a desert wilderness of your own in these trying times, remember that God is never far and his providence is always present. The caring and attentive staff at Bethesda senior living communities are also here to support your physical, mental and spiritual health in any way we can.