It’s been four days so far. Four days of eating nothing but porridge made of rice and nuts, blended and boiled. These four days have felt like an eternity as I force fed myself the same bland thing every hour of the day. However, this is just the beginning of a two or three month porridge only diet.
It all began a week ago as I went to my doctor who has been trying to find healing for my lifelong battle with stomach problems, which have led to many other health issues. After many other failed attempts by many doctors, her solution was clear: “Eat and drink nothing but porridge, water, and tea for at least two or three months to allow your stomach and GI track to heal after a lifetime of it’s damage wreaking havoc on your body.”
Wait, whaaat?! Um, no thank you. I’d rather be sick!
In reality though, I know I need to be willing to be drastic at this point if I ever want to get better. I just never thought something this horrible would be the path. So I began my journey 4 days ago as I made my first big pot of porridge. I survived day one and thought, “I can do this!” Well, now that day four has come of making my family breakfast, lunch, and dinner and watching them enjoy it while eat my bland porridge, I’ve had enough. Everything in me is fighting against this and is desperately wanting a different way. But the options are clear before me…accept and endure this for the sake of healing or give in and go back to the way things were, choosing sickness instead.
I can’t do this. Not in my own strength. So I looked directly to God’s people in the Bible that clearly can relate to my pain. The Israelites. When I first began to read through this familiar story, I thought, “Well, they had it easier because they had no option but to eat the Manna. I have to smell and stare at a variety of delicious food everyday without eating it. I have to CHOOSE manna over the bounty in front of me. But then it struck me that the Isrealites had a choice as well. There choice was freedom in the wilderness or slavery back in Egypt. I now can understand more fully why they were so quick to long for the food back in Egypt and so easily able to forget the pain of slavery.
Isn’t this a struggle everyone faces at some point in their life? We are all faced with a choice between following the path God chooses for us which will include, pain, sacrifice, and minimal understanding at times, but will lead to freedom or else the more comfortable route that will keep us in blindness and bondage.
So my choice is clear and I am looking to the Isrealites to learn from what God has provided for us in His Word when we face a fork in the road. One direction being the harder one that He calls us towards, and the one that our flesh desires far more, which ultimately leads us away from the blessing, peace and joy that Christ offers us on the road less traveled.
Here are three ways God’s provision of manna (and porridge) can be a blessing
1. It reveals what our hearts desire more than Christ.
The Isrealite’s response when faced with eating only manna was,
“And the people of Israel also wept again and said,’Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at” Numbers 11:4-6.
What amazes me about their response was that their memory told them that everything they enjoyed in Egypt was for FREE! They were so blinded by their hunger that they were completely forgetting the fact that they were suffering under the cruel hand of slavery. I highly doubt that their time in Egypt was spent feeling thankful for the delicious food. No, they were desperate for freedom!
Before I sound too judgmental towards their response, I will admit that I have been convicted of this very way of thinking today. After only four days of eating nothing but porridge, I am already hearing my heart tell me that I was better off being sick. What a lie! If we listen to the thoughts and feelings of our flesh as we follow Christ on an unbeaten path He has led us on, we will inevitably be led away from truth and ultimately freedom.
The only solution is to put the truth of the Bible constantly before us. I am currently going through to pull out verses to remind myself of the greater hope I have in following Christ and ultimately in eternity that will far outweigh whatever we are asked to sacrifice on earth. If God’s truth isn’t before us, then the lies of the enemy will begin to warp our view of what’s true. Freedom is ALWAYS better than slavery, no matter the cost.
2. Manna teaches us to rely on Christ like never before.
I have had plenty in life to teach me to rely on Christ. However, I have to say that this has taken it to a very moment by moment reality. I am reminded constantly by my hunger, cravings, and disappointments to what I am missing. It brings new meaning to Christ’s words in Matthew 4:4 as he faced the devil’s temptations after fasting for 40 days,
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Do we really believe that? I know that I haven’t been responding as if I believe it. But in God’s grace, He is showing me in a clearer way what it means to rely on Him alone. I was reminded just this morning by a mentor that my life is filled with immense blessing. And just like the Isrealites who quickly forgot God’s incredible saving power to rescue them out of the hands of Pharoah, we too can quickly forget His provision and goodness to us when hardship comes our way. This has led me to pray, “Lord, I am quick to complain and see my pain as larger than you. Show me through this season of manna, to rely on You like I never have before. Give me eyes to see your hand of blessing on my life and protect me from a heart of bitterness and complaint.” Only Christ can do this in our hearts.
3. Daily manna reminds us of God’s faithfulness and grace to offer us freedom when we deserve slavery.
Even after Christ has suffered and died for me in order to offer life and freedom in Him, I am so quick to complain. When something in life goes awry or makes me uncomfortable, I am quick to respond with an attitude that I deserve better than this. But as I am being given an opportunity to get a glimpse of the Isrealite’s struggle of having only manna to eat, I am also reminded that that very manna was a picture of God’s faithfulness to them. The manna was far more than just food to fill their bellies, it was a picture of God’s daily provision and a reminder that while they deserved slavery, God had provided freedom.
“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them. You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to Your holy abode” Exodus 15:11-13.
While I don’t expect you to join me in eating porridge for three months, would you join me in asking Christ to show you what ways you are relying on your own strength? Let’s ask Him to refresh our vision of the freedom He has provided for us in Christ and to give us a renewed strength to follow Him no matter what that path may bring.
I have no doubt that God will teach me things along the way these next few months. I am thanking Him, that although I long for something greater than porridge one day, He has put a hope in my heart that strengthens my resolve to pursue freedom and not settle for sickness…in body or soul. May we all seek this greater hope that can only be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.