Emmanuel’s Story: Manna or a Manger–God Provides


How those Israelites could complain! The Lord had just miraculously brought them out of hundreds of years of slavery. They saw the plagues—frogs, boils, grasshoppers, even the loss of the firstborn. They witnessed firsthand how God provided a way for the angel of death to pass over their homes, sparing their sons. He split the Red Sea, defeated their enemies, brought water from a rock…

Their response? Whining. Panic.

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”Ex. 16:3

After all God did to save them, they freak out! “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!” They’re accusing him of not letting the angel of death kill them during Passover. They reject his salvation. Why? Their stomachs are hungry.

Reminds me of my kids. Sometimes I feel like I have spent my last drop of emotional, spiritual, and physical energy on them. I’m poured out and used up. I give them the food off my plate. The clothes off my back…

Their response?

“Mom! I’m hungry. I don’t like the red stuff.”

This can drive me to my crazy place, rocking in the fetal position or screaming unintelligibly like a banshee.  


But that’s not how God responded.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day.” Ex. 16:4

He provided for them.

Isn’t that just like our loving Lord? He wasn’t happy with their grumbling and lack of gratitude. He knew their sinfulness deserved to be punished, but he restrained his judgment and “rained” bread on them instead.

He rains provision still. I know this from experience. A few years ago (almost three now) I had a severe cardiac arrest. It’s an amazing story you can read about here https://ocieanna.com/about/. God’s provision during that time flowed in loving torrents: meals, house cleaning, homeschooling, childcare…everything!

Also, just the fact that I survived testifies to God’s provision. Most don’t make it though what I experienced. But there’s more. I recently found out that after I arrested, I was dead for ten minutes. That means other than from the CPR my husband performed, my brain received no oxygen for TEN MINUTES. Before I woke up, one of the nurses told my friend that because of possible brain damage I had a twenty percent chance of ever coming home.

But in his loving providence, I woke up. I smiled, laughed, spoke. God saved me, dear ones. I’m here clicking away on my keyboard. My kids have their mom.

After experiencing this deluge of provision, you’d think I would’ve learned to trust him. But sadly I still panic. We’ve gone through intense financial struggles this year, and even though God has ALWAYS faithfully provided, I panic. And when I say panic, I mean weeping, bouts of anger, depression—all of it. I know he’s patient with my times of despair. I know he walks me through it, but how I want to steadfastly trust his provision. How I long to love him more.


Another mom experienced a time in which she needed to trust. Great with child, what did Mary have? So little. Can you imagine when she heard she had to travel the long journey to Bethlehem? “You’re kidding, right? I can’t go to Bethlehem. On. a. donkey. I’m pregnant with the SON OF GOD!

And things kept getting worse. “Really, Lord? You want me to have the baby, where? A stable? And you want me to lay the baby not in a beautiful crib but in a feeding trough?”

I don’t know if that’s how she responded. She probably trusted God’s plan more than I would have. But it couldn’t have been easy for young Mary. Yet, even though it seemed like she had nothing–in spite of her empty hands–God provided all she needed. Just like he provided for the Israelites by raining down manna, just like he provided for me.

The thing is, God always provides for his people, whether it’s manna or a manger. It may not be the most glorious provision. He doesn’t promise overflowing bank accounts or perfect health or trouble-free life, but he promises something better.


You see, that manna in the wilderness, God’s provision, pointed to better bread. Remember?

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:31-35

Jesus is the true manna, the real provision. God’s presence with us (remember the Emmanuel promise) shelters us from despair, protects us from want, and provides just what we need. I believe Mary knew that. Maybe she thought, What difference does it make where I have this baby, the Messiah is with me. He’s all I need.

That’s how I want to think, too.


Dear friends, I know it’s really hard to trust that God will provide. For me, it’s money troubles, but you may be struggling with God’s provision of healing in a relationship, or a solution to a health emergency, or something else. One thing I know, when I try really hard to trust, I fail miserably. The Israelites never got it right. Neither did the disciples for that matter. The key isn’t trying harder. It’s partaking of the Bread of Heaven. Coming to him, asking for more, and receiving our fill, even if it means over and over each day. This bread will never run out.

Remember, he loves you like there’s no tomorrow.


Shine Your Light: I was pretty vulnerable in this post! Will you share a time when God provided for you? I’d love to hear and I know it will bless others!

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