Please welcome Katie Cruice Smith to Faith in Writing. She has written a guest post for the Gratitude Fridays Feature.
Thankful for the Manna
Two weeks after we arrived home with our newborn, newly-adopted daughter, my husband was asked to have a meeting with the district manager of the large retail company he worked for as a store manager. With no notice and for a very small infraction, my husband was terminated from the company that had controlled our lives for five years.
Suddenly, we found the joy of being new parents tempered by a long summer of unemployment. I had already quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom because we had planned to be a one-income family. To say that we were discouraged would be an understatement! We were in the depths of despair.
We were just like the Israelites when they stood on the edge of the desert, leaving behind 400 years of oppression to follow God’s chosen leader, Moses, into the desert.
“And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies”—Ex. 12:51.
The truth is, we had been praying for a long time that a better job would come. The higher my husband climbed up the ladder, the less time he had to be at home. While we were happy with his salary, we weren’t happy with the lack of priority the company seemed to have for family time. He was on call at all times and could never tell his boss no.
But standing on the edge of that “desert” of unemployment, we were afraid. We knew the bad times that lay behind us, but we couldn’t see the “promised land” of our future.
Throughout that summer, God provided for us over and over again—just as He did for the Israelites. When we needed groceries, they would suddenly appear on our front porch. When a bill was due, money would show up in our mailbox. We never fell behind on our mortgage. We never missed a car payment. We were living on a bare bones budget, yet we never felt the lack.
The Israelites had seen the miracle of the plagues in Egypt. They watched as their Egyptian neighbors and masters suffered at the hand of the Lord, yet they were spared from the plagues. But when they were standing on the edge of the desert with the Egyptian army bearing down on them, they quickly forgot the God they served.
“And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.”—Exod. 14:10.
Just like the Israelites, each time we reached an obstacle, we panicked. We forgot how God had provided for us. God provided groceries, but we worried every time the pantry started to get a little bare. God paid the mortgage in May, but how were we going to make it in June? We let our fear overwhelm us.
In September of that year, my husband finally found a job working as a third-shift detention officer at the local detention center. With a five-month-old at home, he immediately regretted taking on a third shift position. The detention center is already a deplorable place to work. He was often spit on, yelled at, and pushed around by the inmates. In addition to the degrading workplace, he couldn’t seem to get his body on a schedule and was constantly exhausted.
All I could do was complain. Why was this the only job that God would give us? Why did He continue to make us suffer? Why wouldn’t He help us? Whine, whine, whine.
“And they said unto Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?’”—Ex. 14:11.
Just like the Israelites, I started to forget what we had been through that summer. I even began to forget what we had been praying about during his previous employment. My faith was weak, and I felt that I had nothing to thank God for.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 12 ‘I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God’”—Ex. 16:11-12.
Again, God had provided for the Israelites by raining bread from heaven. At first, they were so excited to receive this bread from the Lord. But soon, even bread raining down from heaven lost its luster, and look what they got back to doing:
“We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: 6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes”—Num. 11:5-6.
We had prayed for relief from the first job, yet when we received it, we started complaining about losing it. When we wanted extra time to be together as a new family, we started complaining when we got what we wanted. When we finally found new employment for my husband, we started complaining about that, too.
During that season of my life, I was studying Exodus and judging the Israelites for their outlandish behavior. But then, one day it dawned on me—I wasn’t thankful for our “manna” either! That is the day that my heart began to soften. I began to try to find something to be thankful for each day—our new baby, our supportive family and church, our ability to pay bills. Basically, I decided to take time every day to thank God for the manna in my life.
Thankfully, that job only lasted about six months before my husband was able to find a much better position with better hours—but that miracle story is for another post.
Friend, I don’t know what you are going through right now. Maybe you can relate to my story of unemployment. Or maybe you are battling illness or loss. Perhaps you are simply stuck in a rut and in need of some encouragement. No matter where you are, I want you to remember that the God of the Israelites is the same God Who loves you and is providing for You. The same God Who rained bread down from heaven can meet you right where you are.
It can be terrifying to not be able to see the future. How will you get through this time of lack? Where will your next meal come from? How will you be able to afford the medical bills? God already has that planned, and He is allowing trials in your life to help you remember that He is your Lord God. Nothing is out of His control.
So how about it? Will you join me in taking time each day to thank God for the manna in your life?
Katie Cruice Smith is a freelance writer, journalist, and editor. Her book, Why Did You Choose Me? is currently available for preorder on Amazon and is set to be released in November for National Adoption Month. She is currently working on a devotional book to accompany Why Did You Choose Me?
Katie resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with her husband and three adopted children. She and her husband are the founders of their church’s orphan ministry. Katie is an adoption and foster care advocate, and she and husband are licensed foster parents.
Most adoptive and foster children struggle at some point in their life with knowing who they are and where they belong. They want to ask questions, and parents need to be prepared with an answer that helps them feel loved and secure.
In Why Did You Choose Me?, Katie Cruice Smith answers that question in a way that young children can understand. Drawing from her own experience as an adoptive mom to three children, Katie uses the questions her own children have asked to help them see there never really was a choice; she immediately knew that they were hers.