We visited a very crowded M&M store while in New York recently that had an attractive display of M&M candies all piled up in large transparent cylindrical pipes. The store allowed customers to consume any number of candies of any colour and flavour, without having to pay a penny. It was all totally free. There was only one expectation. While inside the store premises, we could taste any amount of candy without paying for it but we needed to purchase the candy that we wished to carry back home when we left the store.
In the Old Testament, when the Israelites walked through the wilderness on their long journey to the Promised Land, God provided food from Heaven–the ‘manna’–every single day (Exodus chapter 16). It was all paid for, totally free of cost. There was only one condition. The people of Israel could collect only what they could consume each day except the day before the Sabbath.
The challenge the Israelites faced was that they had to trust in a God who did not run a ‘Manna Store in the Wilderness’. Neither did He own a popular restaurant chain or a charity home. They didn’t know whether He had sufficient stock to feed them for their entire journey. The ‘manna’ didn’t have any label of low cholesterol, gluten free, sugar free, fat free, or zero calories. Yet, the people of Israel were called to depend on Him for their food every day.
Exodus 16: 17,18 reads “Some gathered much, some little… the one who gathered much did not have too much and the one who gathered little did not have too little”. Moses had clearly instructed the people to not keep any manna until morning, but some of them did not listen to Moses and ended up with maggots in their left-over food the next morning (Exodus 16: 20).
Perhaps if they had the options of today’s Burger Stalls, Pizza Points, or Paratha Joints in the wilderness, the Israelites might have been less anxious. Just in case the ‘manna’ didn’t arrive when the sun rose the next day, they could order a meal and a cold drink to go. I would think there would have been many in the crowd who initially trusted in God only because they had no other choice. They may have competed against each other to collect the maximum quantity of manna for the day just in case stocks were limited. In the initial weeks, there would have been anxiety, apathy, selfishness, frustration, jealousy, and a whole host of negative emotions arising from various segments of this large group of Israelites.
But…. God stayed true to His word and provided for His people consistently, every single day.
Looking back at the very inviting M&M store in New York, we can say with certainty that it will be there tomorrow and we can walk in for some more free yummy candy. But what we can be even more sure of is that God’s storehouses do not ever dry up and His provisions keep flowing in every day. He continues to fulfil His promises even today, despite our seemingly overwhelming, impossible circumstances. We only need to go to Him with expectation, trusting Him every day, and praying like Jesus taught us to - “Our Father, give us today our daily bread."