“Give us this day our daily bread” is a hard prayer to pray, especially in seasons where the future is uncertain. In Exodus 16, we see the Israelites waking up to find just enough manna covering the morning’s dew to meet their hunger for that day. For 40 years, they had to trust that God would provide exactly what they needed to survive one day at a time – no more, no less. And when they tried to collect more than a day’s worth, the bread became full of maggots and began to smell.
I would also have tried to collect more than a day’s worth of bread. Because I would also rather plan ahead, prepare for what’s to come, know what to expect in the future. But while it might feel easier to store up our manna and shore up the future, all of our planning, preparing and predicting is actually useless – much like rotten manna. Trying to control the future is as much a waste of time as it was for the Israelites to collect manna that would be inedible the next day.
Gathering manna for the long-term might have felt wise and prudent and resourceful, but it was also revealing the doubt the Israelites had that God would continue to provide day by day. Same goes for me – it’s easy to convince myself that I’m doing the wise thing when really it’s just a cover-up for my fear and doubt. There are times when planning is necessary. But when the planning is driven by fear and a desire to control instead of wisdom and a willingness to surrender, we’re missing the mark.
Not only that, but in trying to control the future, we miss out on the fact that the daily manna is actually a daily miracle. We miss out on experiencing our “daily bread” as a blessing and not a burden – an opportunity to see God’s provision afresh morning by morning, reminding us that we indeed have more than enough for that day. In the day-to-day task of gathering their bread, the Israelites were forced to return to the source of their provision – something they might not have done otherwise. If they had been able to gather and store their food on their own, they would have missed out on experiencing God’s tangible goodness each morning. When we try to control the future, we’re at risk of the same.
In asking for a lifetime supply of bread, we miss out on the daily miracle of God’s provision.