Saturday, February 20, 2010

Comfort as Manna from Heaven

I now have occasion to consider the way in which God comforts his children. And it seems there are some things to remember. Before we get into all of that we should look at a text that presents how God provides and our necessary response.

Exodus 16 (I'll be jumping around a bit)

4Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not...

14And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. 16This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.'" 17And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. 19And Moses said to them, "Let no one leave any of it over till the morning." 20But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

As planners by nature, Leanne and I have been trying to plan our grief. As life slowly sinks in, as we slowly gather up the baby stuff and take it downstairs, as her belly still aches from the incisions and from the emptiness we work to ensure all of the support we need is in place to get through this as well as we can. Of course, we have been learning that there is no way to do that.

In reality, the simple task of going to work can seem utterly overwhelming. We cry when we think about "Wednesday." Not that Wednesday has any special task or painful memory associated with it. It's just that Wednesday is close enough for me to be scared about how I am going to get through it, and yet it is far enough away for me to struggle with planning around it.

God reveals both in history and in His revealed Word that he will provide for his children. They will not be forgotten. God does not forget that we are finite and creaturely. That we require daily provision for some of the most mundane things.

Some things I have learned about God's provision:
  1. God will provide, and he will provide exactly what you need, not what you think you need. In our case we need comfort and God promises he will provide that (2 Cor 7:6)
  2. He provides it daily. Sometimes minute by minute. All planning is not wrong, but when it comes to trying to bank up God's provision I think you'll find that your plans are thwarted. Why do you think the Israelites were unable to store up extra manna? God isn't against pantries, but he is against people trying to rely on themselves when he has explicitly told them to rely on him. My "Wednesday" is the issue I worry about when I don't have the faith to deal with today. When friends come over and our spirits are lifted the exact wrong thing to do would be to worry about how our spirits will be lifted in three days. God has enough strength to plan out three days from now, I don't nor am I supposed to. Take ever gift as it is given, when it is given.
  3. God's provision is sweet to the senses. Scripture writes that manna tasted like honey-cakes. God could have provided them a rice/bird-seed combo cracker that would have been gluten free and provided every necessary nutrient and tasted like cardboard, but he didn't. His provision tasted like the sweetest thing they had. If God is providing a moment of laughter or friendship then just go with it. Love it. Hold on to it as long as it is there. Don't feel guilty for being comforted.

Far from being done with learning about comfort I leave you all now. I've started a prayer journal. I got one of those fancy-schmancy moleskines from B&N and have been writing my prayer request on one side and God's provision on the other. God is good and he provides for his children.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)

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