The Mystery of the Manna

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I’m often asking the Lord for answers. Whether it’s about what’s going on with Angelguard, prayers for people who are struggling, or simply about the fact I might have woken up feeling unwell. A day doesn’t go by when I’m not asking Him, “so what about this or that.”

Do you do that?

The extent of my questioning God increases significantly when times are tough or uncertain. For example, a job proposal is rejected or my dad’s health relapses. “Why God?” and “is this the end?” are questions I’m sure I’ve asked many times in relation to those two matters.

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament as part of my Lenten experience of completing the entire Bible. This week I finished Job. I think most of us are familiar with his story; Job was “totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion.” I’d like to be described as such. He was also extremely wealthy and “the most influential man in all the East.”

Wow, a really impressive guy in my estimation.

But Job went through some horrendous suffering, losing his family, his wealth and his health. Most of the 42 chapters is a dialogue between Job and his four close friends where they all attempt to understand why God is allowing this to occur. It’s a fascinating read and I found myself at various stages hearing myself say some of what each of the friends said when they took their turn to talk.

It’s amazing how we (or perhaps it’s only me) allow ourselves to rationalise God in what is going on. This rationalisation gives us some degree of comfort so we can make sense out of what’s going on. It helps us stay in control.

To use one of J.John’s great little sayings: “Do not rationalise – it’s simply “rational lies.” Touche.

“To know Me (God) well, you must first be confused by Me. Only in the mystery of suffering will you stop trying to fit Me into your understanding of life.”1

BAM.

I do that all the time. I try to fit God into my understanding.

I recall recently learning via Ann Voskamp’s writing the word “manna” in Aramaic means “ what is it?”  So the Israelites woke up every day for 40 years to feed on “what is it?” or the mystery of the manna that God had provided them with overnight.

To survive, they had to feast on the mystery provided by God.

“When you stand before Me in mystery, you will eventually rest within Me in trust. When you can’t figure Me out, you will give up the illusion of predictability and control and discover the joy and freedom of hope.”2

Or as Eugene Peterson says in his preface to the book of Job:

“The mystery of God eclipses the darkness and the struggle.”

Job came to some understanding of this when God spoke to Him: “You [God] told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’” (Job 42: 6 The Message)

God is holding us, always. He never lets go.

It’s so hard surrendering the desire to know the answers. Having an answer, any answer, makes us feel we can move forward in some small way.

But what I’m taking from the mystery of the manna, is God is the answer. The answer is a person, not an explanation, or a reason.

King David’s words are a great encouragement:

“More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God” (Ps 32: 3 The Message)

Let’s enter the mystery, hang out there a while, and rest in the Lord’s presence.

Notes: 1. 66 Love Letters, Dr Larry Crabb, Thomas Nelson, 2009, p85; 2. Ibid, p86

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