As Moses travelled across the desert with the Israelites after their escape from Egypt, the people began to complain – especially about the food they missed. God told Moses that He would provide them with ‘meat in the evening and bread in the morning’. In the evening quail came and covered the camp and in the morning the people found flakes like frost on the desert floor.
They were instructed to take enough of this manna to last them a day. They were also instructed to eat what they had collected and not keep any until the morning. Any who did so, found that the manna they tried to take in advance was full of maggots and began to smell. (Exodus 16:1-35). Interestingly the Hebrew word manna comes from a root word that means ‘gift’ or ‘favour’. Transposing the story a little, we see that God gave everyone enough favour for each day, but, if they tried to take extra favour, it went rotten.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His listeners not to worry about tomorrow and said that tomorrow will care for itself. He went on to say that each day had enough trouble on its own (Matthew 6:34). When we put Jesus’ teaching with the Israelite’s experience in the wilderness we see that God gives us grace to handle what is coming each day, but, He only supplies enough grace for that day and, if we attempt to take tomorrow’s grace we run into trouble.
I write this in the context of our Senior students and how they are travelling at the moment. Last year, Queensland introduced the new Senior system which culminates in a set of External Exams sat over a four week period. These exams are set and marked by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority and are worth either twenty five or fifty percent (for Maths and Science subjects) of a student’s total Year 12 grade for that subject. These exams have been hanging over the students’ heads all year. Finally they are here. As the students sit one exam, there is no point them concerning themselves over the next one. Their focus has to be on the exam they are sitting. Worrying about tomorrow’s exam is not productive.
I have found, as Jesus taught, that I don’t have enough grace to deal with all of my problems at once. I do have enough for today.
I remember when we were in the middle of a family crisis. Our son was in a coma after a major head injury. Doctors could not promise anything regarding his recovery and we had no idea what the future would hold. We had to ask ourselves “What does today look like?” and “How does it look between now and when I lay my head on the pillow tonight?”. Normally that looked like something we could cope with. When we tried to look too far into the future, stress levels went higher and higher.
In the mid-1970s Kris Kristofferson and Marijohn Wilkin wrote the song “One Day at a Time”. The chorus of this song has echoed through my head in moments of trial and tribulation. They wrote the following:
One day at a time sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking of You
Just give me the strength to do every day what I have to do
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine
Lord help me today, show me the way one day at a time
As this turbulent year draws to a close and we enter the Christmas period with all of its stressors, let’s remember the lesson of the manna: that God will give us the grace to cope with today and it’s challenges, and let us also try to just live in that grace and not draw on tomorrow’s.
Head of Secondary College