A reflection on Exodus 16:1-18

wildernessMoses got the people out of Egypt. It wasn’t easy, but the Pharaoh finally let them go. The people are free some slavery, and safely on the other side of the Red Sea.

Except now they’re in a desert. It’s hot. It’s wilderness. There’s no water or food.

So one month into their journey to freedom, they start to complain.

“We’re thirsty!”

So God provides water.

And in Exodus 16, people are hungry and start wishing they were slaves again….

Wait… WHAT!?

Have you ever gone on a long trip? How much planning did it take? You had to figure out how much clothing to take. Where to stop for food. Where to rest. Where to stop and take in the sites. It takes some planning to go on a trip.

But the Israelites didn’t have that luxury. They had to get out of Egypt fast, before the Pharaoh changed his mind again. They grabbed what was most important and headed for safety.

Now they are wandering in the harsh wilderness without food or water.

We are taught to be independent, self-sufficient, that we can do it all ourselves. But what happens when we’re stripped of all that defines us. What if we’re left to fend for ourselves, trying to find the basic necessities of life? What then?

This is what the Israelites are learning in the desert. They are learning just how God provides.

We’re told they are promised food, and food is what they get. Fresh quail every night. Bread from heaven every morning. And every time it’s exactly what they need, not too much, not too little. In fact, if they try and hoard more than they need, it goes bad, full of worms and rot.

They are learning to trust in God. A trust that will get them far, that will get them to the promised land. Sure they continue to struggle. They still complain. But all along, when they struggle, when they complain, they see how God provides.

And God still provides today.

In many churches around the world, we are celebrating World Communion Sunday this weekend. In the bread and the wine, we are reminded what Jesus said in John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

In Communion, we do not take communion, we receive. We receive this gift of love and mercy from a God who provides.

We just need to learn to trust.

Trust in Jesus, who brings us the One who provides for our every need.