In Deuteronomy, chapter Eight, verse three, God reminds the Israelites that he caused them to be hungry, and then fed them with manna. Think of that! He first let them get hungry, and then fed them with "Angel's food," as Psalm 78:25 refers to it.
God does this with us too. How many of us have done without for a seemingly long time, and then suddenly God answered our prayers with miracles? Truly, God has left us breathless with the way he has sometimes provided for us. He fed us with divine food--heavenly mercies--after we had some time in which to grow hungry.
This shows us that what God wants most is that we hunger for him, rather than just for his blessings. At the time of the passage noted above, most of the trials in the wilderness were over. The older generation had died off, and the people were ready to enter the promised land. God was repeating his earlier promise, to bless them with a good land, for the very reason that they had already gone through the troubles of the wilderness. They now had a history of following God, of waiting upon him, and of being divinely fed and provided for. In other words, they had the foundation for receiving the promised land with thanksgiving, and with hearts made right by prior trials.
Of course, their battles were far from over, though they were done with wandering in the desert and taking every meal from God's hand. They would henceforth begin to till the ground and work for themselves. But, their dependence was still to be upon God for their ultimate welfare. They were to remember always to be grateful, and to thank him for his provision and his oversight. And they were to obey his laws. Then, and only then, could he continue to bless them, and allow them to fully occupy the land; to have every one of their battles end in victory (alas, it was not to be so complete, but the conditional promise was given to them).
But, beyond all this, they were to stay hungry for God. He says, "When you have eaten and are full, praise the Lord...do not forget the Lord your God, and so fail to observe his commands..."
Truly, we are like the Israelites. God cannot give us everything at once. We must go through a time (or times) of deprivation or struggle, so that we may gain a heavenly perspective. We must grow hungry in order to learn to be thankful when provision does come. God says that he let them be hungry so that he could humble and test them: "...To know what was in your heart..." Everyone is different, so the particulars of our individual trials will vary, but we all go through our own wilderness. We all grow hungry.
The question is, do we develop a hunger for God himself, or only for things? If our hunger is for God, then there is a promise waiting ahead! We are not told that it is God's will for us to wander in the wilderness forever, any more than they had to. Only the "disobedient children" are broken in that way (as the first generation of Israelites were). No, if we are teachable, and if we allow him to lead us, then we have a promise of coming out of the wilderness into a time of blessing. If we have a hunger for him, then he can work in our lives.
Notice that while the children of Israel were going through the wilderness time God provided other needs as well.Their clothes did not get old, and the sandals of the children grew right along with them. They were certainly the ones who had "miracles for breakfast." God will take care of us too--even if our clothes do wear out! If we should become hungry, or if we are forced to wear the same old things for some time, we won't die (though it may seem that way sometimes).
Rather, if we trust him to come through and don't complain (which is the whole point of the "test"), we will go through more quickly, and he will meet our basic needs during the trial. This is because he has a plan for us. He has purposes that go beyond what we are usually interested in, but we can rest assured that they are for our own good.
We may eat angel's food too, if we are being led by God. Our manna is a little different from theirs, since Christ dwells in our hearts. He is "the living bread, which came down from heaven." He will keep us in all our ways, and he will be our provision. How could we overlook such food, prefering carnal meat? Yet, we often do.
Sometimes we have had a hunger for God, and for one reason or another we have lost it. I know that I have had to regain my hunger a number of times (not my basic comittment, but my savor for God). If we are willing he will revive us, and renew our desire for him and his ways. That is his nature, and his plan. But, we must be obedient children, and we must get a hunger for him, rather than just his blessings.
If we haven't got it, he will devise ways to make us hungry, and that is where the wilderness lies. We can go through it again, and then we will have to approach his blessings all over again too. But, that depends upon how far we go before responding to his correction. Keeping a hunger is the best way to stay in the promise (but, don't forget that they had to fight in Canan land, and it wasn't easy to inherit that land, even once they left the desert). It is a lifetime attitude to consign every hard time that comes to God; to leave everything in his hands.
"Know then in your heart..." (vs.5) that God is your Father, and is dealing with you as with a child--firmly, yet lovingly, for an eternal purpose.
Oh God, make me worthy, and ready for your promise. Forgive my iniquities, and lead me in a right path. Give me a hunger for you. Amen.
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