I walk into Bible study hesitantly. This week we are talking about prayer. I’m not sure how honest I should be.
While I see tremendous value in prayer, I’ve had my own struggles with it. Especially when people talk about their miraculous answers. The ones that happen immediately after they’ve prayed. For the first time. When I’ve prayed about something for years. And nothing has changed.
Some of my prayers have remained unanswered for decades.
I share this with my group, tentative about saying it aloud. My disappointment sounds so unspiritual, so faithless, so shallow.
But then Florence says something that refocuses my attention. Immediately I know that these words are for me. “You never hear anyone in the Bible complaining about the parting of the Red Sea. Everyone loves delivering grace. But the Israelites, like us, were not satisfied with manna. We all complain about sustaining grace.”
We all complain about sustaining grace.
Her words hit me hard. I can scarcely pay attention to the rest of the discussion as I ponder them.
Were my prayers for deliverance answered with the gift of sustenance? Do I not see that that was an answer too? And often just as miraculous?
Why am I not grateful for manna? The everyday grace of God.
When I tell Florence how her words are staying with me, how they are changing everything for me, she writes me this:
I remember being stunned by the realization of how much I love deliverance and how little I appreciate sustenance. Essentially, saying “Where is the victory in sustenance – it sounds like just getting by.” Wasn’t I scorning grace?
Scorning grace. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing?
In waiting for the huge monumental deliverance- the kind where I can put my issue to bed and never have to pray about it again- I’ve overlooked the grace that keeps drawing me to Him. The prayers that may appear unanswered, but actually are fulfilled in ways that keep me dependent, tethered, needy.
The children of Israel were familiar with the gift of dependence. Manna dropped from heaven so they wouldn’t starve as they wandered in the wilderness. But they needed God to provide it daily; they weren’t able to hoard it. And thus they couldn’t avoid total dependence on God.
The Israelites were given bread so that they would rely on God and live by His word. But like me, they often disdained it.