Rediscovering Manna amid our Wilderness

“What is it?”  “WHAT IS IT?”

“What is this strange white stuff glistening in the morning sunlight?”

These were the words, repeated by some three million Israelites, as they stood at the door of their tents, staring with wonder across the wilderness plain as the morning dawn greeted them.

Their world, perhaps like it is for many of us these days, was turned upside down in the prior weeks.

Life as they knew it was forever changed. The norms and rhythms of everyday living were set aside. Life now was totally disorienting, disturbing, and filled with anxiety. Now, free from enslavement, they were found living as wondering nomads in the vast barren wilderness.

The question of life existing beyond Egypt, life on the other side of the Red Sea had become their new reality.

Even though the Children of Israel lived as slaves—for four-hundred-thirty years—they and their preceding generations found a unique sense of security in their bondage. It was what they knew.

Did you ever consider how much food and water it would take to provide for several million people in a forty-year period while living in the wilderness?

One statistician provided an assessment for a one-day provision: Eleven million gallons of water—Fifteen-hundred tons of food—Forty-five hundred tons of wood for cooking and washing…Every day…for forty years.

God’s provision, even when their world which was turned upside-down, is absolutely amazing.

Despite God performing numerous miracles before their eyes, God delivering them from the bondage of Egypt, the LORD continually demonstrating His presence among them, grumbling tumbled from their lips—freely and constantly.

Grumbling precedes God’s gift of manna. Grumbling precedes God’s gift of quail. Grumbling became the new default living in these new norms.

And then, one day, they woke up and gazed outside their tent, and with dumbfounded wonder, asked, “What is it?”

The word manna comes from the Hebrew word Mawn, which, surprise-surprise! Means—What is it?

I find it quite easy to bust on the Children of Israel throughout their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Indeed, one does not need to look very hard to find something on which to bust on them. Their faults, which are many, are glaringly obvious.

Perhaps, if we are truly honest, the transparency in what is written about them sounds strangely familiar in our own ears.

There is much to apply from the story of God’s provision of manna amid a wilderness experience as we are also presented an unknown and uncertain future while wandering in a pandemic wilderness.

One particular word stands out in this story.


God provided daily. Can this simple truth be so simple?

Especially right NOW—in this weird wilderness experience we find ourselves in?

Give us LORD our daily bread.

The very words of Jesus, given us in the LORD’S prayer.

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  (Mt. 9-13 NKJV)

It would be one thing if God’s daily provision, promised and provided every day in the wilderness, or if the words Jesus models for us to pray daily, was incredibly complicated or layered with qualifiers we must meet.

Give us LORD our daily bread.

Such a simple prayer.

In the midst of unknowns, anxieties, and questions, blessing still surrounds our tents. Sometimes, we may just need fresh eyes to gaze in the wilderness and see the LORD’S daily provision.


Perhaps, we do well to stand at our doors and gaze across the fields, and humbly ask, daily, “What is it?”

Be encouraged. God is faithful.

God is sovereign.

Jesus is LORD.

When the children 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, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. Ex. 16:15(NKJV)