“'A loaf of bread,' the Walrus said, 'is what we chiefly need.'”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, 1871
The whole Israelite community complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert. The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction.”
In his collection of poems Standing by Words, Wendell Berry wrote, “It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey.” Is there any truth here? Or is this just a poet’s confusing way with words?
It took Israel about five seconds to realize how uncomfortable things would get before God was finished forming them into the people God had intended since creation. Honestly, it might have been easier for Moses and Aaron to lead them back to Egypt, maybe grab a steak burrito! But they would never take their true place as God’s community of love and justice.
The work of becoming who God is calling you to be leads often to a place of pain. And yet when has God ever abandoned you to it? Your belly may burn, but God will sustain you with bread from heaven, and you’ll know you’re on the right track.
God, sustain me with daily bread, even if that’s all I get. Dwell with me in the desert, in the place of pain and hunger, because sometimes I just get lost there. When it seems bleak, continue to call me toward the life and identity you have for me. Amen.
“Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more.”
From “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” 1745, by William Williams