Monday, May 12, 2014

Manna AGAIN??!

During their time as slaves in Egypt, the Israelites must have longed and prayed for freedom.  They endured back-breaking work, abuse from their captors, and even genocide.   Eventually, many miracles took place to bring about their deliverance -- not the least of which was the parting of the Red Sea.
However, their freedom, which ended up looking like a hot, dry, barren wilderness, was not what they had expected.  I suppose that as they had dreamed and longed for freedom, they pictured it like a dream-life -- free from care and worry and strife.  But it wasn't like that, it was hard.  And, they tended to focus on the 'hard'.  And, BOY, did they complain about it!
Yet, in the midst of all that dust, and walking, and sun beating down, there were beautiful, mind-boggling, life-sustaining miracles!  They received water from a rock.  They received sweet water from an undrinkable pool.  They received healing by merely having faith to look at their Prophet's staff.  And, daily, they received life-sustaining manna as a gift from Heaven above.
Manna, however, did require work.  Each day, with the exception of the Sabbath, the Israelites would gather enough manna to feed themselves for that day.  The Bible dictionary explains, "It is impossible to find any natural product that will answer to the requirements of the scriptural narrative in regard to this heaven sent food [manna]. With regard to the name, we are told (Ex. 16:15) that the people, seeing the small scale-like substance, said one to another, 'Man-hu,' 'For they wist not what it was.' This also translates 'What is it?'” (

"What is it?" was probably quickly followed by, "What do we do with it?"  As far as I know, there was no manual or cookbook that came with the manna.  There was likely some trial and error as they learned to use this nourishment to their good.  And, with a significant lack of herbs, spices, and other ingredients, the culinary possibilities were probably quite limited.  And, this was their main dish, three meals a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year, for forty years.  
With their tendency to focus on the 'hard', they quickly lost sight of the miracle of it all--sustenance delivered daily, straight from God!--and instead got caught up in the repetition, the lack of variety, and the blandness.
I can almost hear them whining, "Manna AGAIN??!"

Admittedly, each time I have reviewed this story, I have become frustrated with the Israelites.  They were SO unappreciative, ungrateful, and blind to the miracles that surround them and to the source of those miracles.  

I shared this story with my children a couple of weeks ago, when they were complaining about some blessing in their life.  I felt it was important for them to change their perspective and their attitude.

Not long afterward, the Spirit whispered to my heart that I, too, was behaving like an ungrateful, blind-to-the-miracles-around-me Israelite.  I was complaining about the laundry, dishes, and clutter that constantly pile up.  I was complaining about the backseat bickering in the car, and the daily meltdown at family scripture and prayer time.

From my earliest childhood, my strongest desire was to be a mother.  Just as the Israelites had longed and prayed for freedom, my husband and I spent many years longing and praying for children.  Our diagnosis of "Unexplained Infertility" seemed to be the Red Sea blocking our way to our dream family.  Eventually, many miracles took place, including medical intervention and also adoption to bring about the parting of our Red Sea.
However, my family is not quite the picture-perfect, clean-up-after-themselves, help-without-being-asked, respect-others-and-their-stuff, peaceful family of my dreams. Instead, it often looks like a messy, loud, rambunctious, quarreling, unhelpful crowd. And, BOY, have I complained about it.
The truth is, kids require work.  Daily.  And, they don't come with a manual.  I have personally had a great deal of trial and error in raising my children.  Besides the physical work of cleaning, laundry, doing dishes, sorting clutter, etc., there is the mental and emotional work of "What do we do with [our children]?" who are still learning and making mistakes.  
I am ashamed to admit that, somewhere amidst the day-in-day-out, three hundred sixty five days a year, year after year repetition, I began to see my MIRACLES as MUNDANE and even irritating. I had started to focus on the 'hard'.  I had been complaining about the most significant miracles in my life!  I had forgotten that my daily interaction with these spirits straight from heaven is a miracle.  I had forgotten that the piles of laundry and dishes were evidence of our abundance and of a full family.  I had forgotten that clutter comes with the blessing of a young family.  I had forgotten that the backseat bickering in the car is evidence that God brought two miracles into our family, and that they are strong, independent thinkers; and besides that, the blessing that we have a car which provides reliable transportation to us.  And, as for the meltdowns at family prayer and scripture time, I had forgotten the beauty and blessing of being a family who prays together, however imperfectly, and who are blessed with the word of God in our home, and for the freedom to practice our religion.  

My life is so full of miracles, that I had begun to take them for granted, and now I need a change in attitude and perspective!

On the topic of gratitude, President Uchtdorf, counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said, "As disciples of Christ, we are commanded to 'thank the Lord [our] God in all things,' to 'sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,' and to 'let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God.'"   I looked, but did not find any exceptions to this commandment.  He continues, "Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be."   "Whatever they may be??"  But what about when we've had manna for 39 1/2 years?  Or when the kids are fighting?  Or when we've lost a loved one to death or estrangement?  Or when we or someone we love is facing a crisis? Or a hundred million other 'hard' circumstances?  President Uchtdorf assures us, "those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding." (

I expect that, for those Israelites who were able to maintain an attitude of gratitude for the manna they received, life (and probably the manna) was sweeter.  That's the kind of Israelite I would like to emulate, the grateful-for-God's-unending-miracles-in-my-life Israelite.  How about you?


  1. Oh how I needed this counsel. An attitude adjustment is in process, thanks to this post. I love the analogy/metaphor/whatever it is called. It's a good one. Thank You!

  2. I've thought about this too, miracles seeming mundane-but not in conjunction with the Israelites and Manna, so I LOVE having this connection! Especially in a way so relate-able to kids (how would you feel if we had to eat the SAME meal EVERY meal EVERY day for HALF your life?). Every time my girls fight I remind myself "This is why we had a second child. I WANTED this to occur. I WANTED my kids to learn to fight and figure things out." And I repeat this phrase quite often....I had a very insightful conversation with a friend (not of our faith, but agrees with quite a bit from our faith) today about the definitions of words and how there are some things, like gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, etc, that we really and truly can't quite comprehend with our finite minds. Instead we have to settle for definitions of these terms that only slightly comply with the full depth and how expanding our understanding of what these things are and aren't help us to glimpse more into God's meaning. I feel that Pres. Uchtdorf's talk did that for me when contemplating gratitude from a more eternal perspective. Once again, you've got amazing insight, friend!

  3. So well said and as always a good reminder of the blessings all around us. Love it!


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