Produce of the Land

On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.

Joshua 5:10-12

If we are in a desert season–a season of trial, testing, development and dependency–God will drop manna from heaven. He will bring His provision to us. He will often encounter us despite our pursuit (or lack thereof) of Him.

Yet, when we begin to step into the promises of God for our life, the manna will stop. The expectation from God is that, now that we are in the good land, we will learn to cultivate that which will sustain us. We will eat food that is produced by the land.

This is why some people talk about how close to God they felt when they were going through a hard time, yet when things got better, they lost that intimacy with God. Why would that happen?

Essentially, people expect to live off of manna in the Promised Land. And when the manna stops, they don’t know what to do. Just because the manna stopped doesn’t mean the sustenance has to stop. It doesn’t mean intimacy has to stop. It just means the intimacy that was once pure gift now has to be pursued. It has to be cultivated.

Practically speaking, this means that while God’s presence felt so close during that hard season without you having to do anything, when you step into the promise God has for you, you may have to get up early to spend time with Him. The Presence is still there. The intimacy is still there. But you may have to be more intentional about cultivating time with Him in order to experience it. You may have to engage with God in ways that remind you that you are just as dependent on Him as before, even if the immediate crisis has passed.

People sense that the manna has stopped and think God is now distant. Not true. The manna stopping is an invitation toward cultivation. It is an invitation to maturity. It is an invitation to move beyond desert living and into a life of stewarding God’s provision and promises in your life.

We must learn to live in the desert and in the Promised Land. We have to learn how to do both. The apostle Paul put it this way:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

Did you feel God so near in a crisis but now it seems as if the manna has stopped? What can you do now to cultivate intimacy with Him? What does it look like for you to eat the produce of the land?

Comfort and Mystery

“I, even I, am he who comforts you.
    Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
    human beings who are but grass,
that you forget the Lord your Maker,
    who stretches out the heavens
    and who lays the foundations of the earth…

Isaiah 51:12-13

So often we comfort ourselves by using the tool of “comparison.” We feel like we are struggling financially and so we compare ourselves to someone with less and say, “At least I’m not that poor.” We feel like our career has stalled and so we compare ourselves to someone who got fired and say, “At least I have a job.” This is often how we comfort ourselves when we are facing a hard time.

But using comparison to bring comfort has an ugly side to it. When you are the one completely broke, when you are the one who lost their job, when you are the one with a terminal illness, comparison only leads to more despair. Far from bringing comfort, comparison brings feelings of deep pain and hopelessness.

God makes it clear that He alone is our comforter. We need to take our pain to Him and let His presence exchange our sorrow with joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “…you will fill me with joy in your presence…” It’s in the presence of “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles“(2 Corinthians 1:3-4) where we find comfort and a lasting joy that can’t be taken from us by hard circumstances. Comparison can never do this!

The Lord recently revealed something to me in regard to mystery. We humans tend to be hypocrites when it comes to what mystery we’re comfortable accepting. We ask questions regarding the mysteries of pain and suffering but never ask the same questions about our blessing and provision. We don’t wrestle through why we were born into a country with freedoms, a strong economy, job opportunities, clean water and sanitation. We know it is a mystery as to why we were born here and others were born into countries with none of these things. Yet, we accept this mystery often without a second thought.

However, we love to ask “why me” when we get an illness, or have a financial crisis, or troubled relationships. We embrace the mystery of blessing just fine but can’t bear to embrace the mystery of suffering. If the answer to the question “why was I born into a middle-class family in the one of the greatest countries in the world” is above my pay grade, then certainly why my friend got cancer is above my pay grade. Both are mysteries and both are beyond my understanding. To accept one as mystery and demand answers for the other is hypocrisy.

The healthy response to suffering in our life is to take our grief and our pain to the Lord. We take it to Him and allow Him to comfort us. When we think we have to make sense of it and figure it all out, we step out of our role as trusting sons and daughters of the Father. Embracing mystery and trusting the Lord with things that are beyond our understanding is a part of living in a broken and fallen world.

What mystery in your own life is the Lord asking you to trust Him with?

What do you need to take to the Lord to receive His comfort?