We have all walked through seasons characterized by loss and disruption—a loss of control, disruption to plans, unmet expectations, fear of the unknown, and countless disappointments. If you’re like me, it’s far too easy to fix your gaze on what could have or should have been. But when all we choose to see is our plans slipping through our fingers, we miss experiencing the gift of God’s provision.
Exodus 16 tells the story of how God provided manna and quail for the Israelites just after their rescue from Egypt. The desert wilderness was a stark contrast to the picture of freedom they had dreamed about. And in the unknown, they demanded answers—and God responded to their attempts to ground themselves by giving his people the opportunity to trust Him instead.
God’s instructions were simple: Every morning there would be manna on the ground, and every evening there would be quail. On the sixth day, the Israelites were to collect twice as much as they needed because they would rest on the seventh day. His question was simple: Do you trust Me to give you exactly what you need?
The word manna literally means, “what is it?”— a description of the Israelites’ response to what God had given them. Convinced of their own vision and plans, God’s people had trouble recognizing His care for them.
It was a struggle to trust God for their daily bread. Some gathered extra food, and it spoiled. Others failed to gather enough on the sixth day. It was difficult to have faith that His provision was not only enough but exactly what they needed. They didn’t recognize the miracle.
I fear that we don’t often recognize the miracle either. We gaze upon God’s provision in our lives and ask ourselves the same question: what is it? We hold tight to our own vision, convinced that God is merely the power source to our own plans. We’ll acknowledge our need for Him to make our dreams a reality, but we are hesitant to surrender those dreams to His perfect will. Here, we miss the gifts in the rubble of expectations that have been torn down—a deepened relationship, an invitation to slow down and rest, a renewed perspective on what really matters, and mostly, Jesus Himself.
Many times we fail to notice the Manna in our hands. We struggle to see that God doesn’t simply give us more of what we want, He gives us something different: Himself.
Consider the disciples who were walking on Emmaus road and how confused they must have been in the days that followed Jesus’ death. The cross must have looked nothing like the victorious ending that they had in mind. Their hope had led them to loss. The future they dreamed about was not their reality. And when two of them found themselves debriefing the horrifying events of the previous few days, Jesus—their resurrected Lord—joined them on the path and in their conversation. Hope was walking with them, but the disciples couldn’t recognize Him because the appearance of their Lord did not match their expectations.
Will we miss Hope, our Savior, walking with us in this season too?
God doesn’t say our pain and loss is good. He promises to work it for good. And there is a significant difference. Pain itself is not a gift, but it does give us a gift. When our comforts fail us and our own vision about what life was supposed to look like fades, we are left with empty hands. But here’s the good news: only empty hands are open—open to receiving the only Provision that sustains—our Daily Bread—the Bread of Life.
We will wrestle with the pain of knowing that God can and wondering if He will. We will find His timing hurtful sometimes. We may worry that we will never agree with God on what is good. And we might fear that we will never be able to see the beauty in God’s plans.
But I know that in the wake of the vision we have lost, and in the empty space of losing the life we thought we wanted, we find the provision we need in the person and presence of Jesus Christ. Maybe the disruption of our plans and expectations is an invitation to receive our sustaining Daily Bread.
Nicole Zasowski is a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of From Lost to Found: Giving Up What You Think You Want For What Will Set You Free. As an old soul who wears her heart proudly on her sleeve, she enjoys writing and speaking on topics that merge her professional knowledge and personal experience. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two young boys. Nicole would love to connect with you online at www.nicolezasowski.com.