READINGS: FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
In the first reading of this fourth Sunday of Lent, Circle C (Joshua 5:9-12), we read that the day after the Israelites ate of the produce of the land of Canaan, while encamped at Gilgal, the manna, that God had supplied to feed them during their 40-year journey, on their way to the promise land ceased. This act, on the part of God has two very important lessons for us.
For over 40 years, God had miraculously provided food, in the form of manna falling from the heavens, for the Israelites while they journeyed through the desert. Having entered the bountiful Promised Land, He now provided food for them, no longer from the heavens but from the land, but they had to work for it. The truth is that God can and does provide for His people as needed, and sometimes, in miraculous ways, but assuredly, He expects us to use the talents and resources He has given to us to make it happen. It is said that miracles happen when we pray as if everything depends on God and work as hard as if everything depends on us. Prayer is not an alternative to preparation and action and faith is never a substitute for hard work. We must always look inward and pray for wisdom to see what we can do in the face of every challenge and for the energy and motivation to pursue and carry it out. God uses our efforts to cause miracles to happen in our lives.
The secession of manna also symbolizes the reality that everything on this earth has an expiring date. Loss is an integral part of this life of ours—the death of a spouse, parent, child, dear friend, or beloved relative; the loss of a job, home, financial stability, trust; the experience of divorce, migration, displacement, etc. In these instances, the manna, so to say, ceases to be and we must face the reality of moving on without it. The temptation is to hang onto the past but unfortunately, there is nothing there to behold. It is very possible that some Israelites may have gone out the next morning, and the next day, looking for manna and simply found none. They would have starved to death if they kept looking for manna and refused to cultivate the bountiful land of promise that had been given to them. We can look back at the past, in order to see where we have come from, but we should never pitch a tent in there to live.
What this says to us is that life will always challenge us with the secession of manna, in one way or another, but we need to remember that the secession of manna is not the end of food provision. The Israelites celebrated their first Passover in the Promise Land, not with manna but with produce from their farms. So, there is life after manna ceases. While tomorrow will definitely not be yesterday, the key to tomorrow is to find ways to move on and to move forward because life just simply moves on. Let us remember the words of Scripture, “Nothing has happened to you that is not common to the human race but God is faithful and with every trial will also open a window that you may escape it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). My dear friends, things will come and go but the provisions of God will always endure. May the good Lord never let us lose hope because of what we have lost in this life!