I’ve been struck by these verses this week:
Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NIV)
God speaks in many ways; we cannot force God’s voice into a template of our choosing. There are times when God lets us hunger. The NIV translates this as ‘he humbled you, causing you to hunger’.
He caused them to hunger.
As so often is the case, it is hard to explain why one phrase can hit so hard; we all are dealing with different things in our spiritual lives and my journey is certainly not the same as yours.
But something in that phrase made me aware of my own ‘hunger’ of late. Some yearning I cannot place, a sense of need that chews away at me. There is no easy solution, and no cliche will fill it. ‘God will fill it!’ you may pipe up, trying to be ultra-helpful.
Hmmm… I don’t find such a pat answer helpful, however well-intended – and even true – it may be. But that idea of God letting us hunger somehow strikes a chord with me today. (Sometimes the ‘pat answer’ may be the right one, but for whatever reason we need to take the ‘long way round’, as Israel did in those 40 years.)
What am I hungry for, and how is it expressing itself? And when we hunger, do we try and satisfy that hunger with wrong things? And even if they are not bad things in themselves, are they not what we actually need? And does God use our fumbling attempts at satisfying our own hunger – and failing to do so – as a way of drawing us closer, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time?
I can only hope I learn the right things from my ‘hunger‘, instead of wasting away longing for things that don’t satisfy and are flimsy in comparison to what I am offered by God’s gracious hand.
Lord, help me recognise manna when I see it.