Thinking on Today’s Manna

“Whatsoever things are pure … think on these things.”

That verse in the KJV was a favorite among youth leaders during my upbringing. In the ESV, it reads like this.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The application of this verse I heard as a youth was not to fill my mind with questionable movies or music. I should listen to classical music or conservative Christian music with no rock beat, read Shakespeare but avoid most television shows, and so forth. The Reformation hit me in my mid twenties, giving me a hermeneutic through which to interpret Scripture that I had never had before. After leaving the loosely formed fundamentalist movement in which I grew up, I didn’t give that verse much thought. I guess I was caught up in so many other facets of Scripture I had previously missed in my first 25 years as a believer that I didn’t take as much time with ones that were emphasized in my youth.

Of late, that verse has become precious to me in a new way. It’s a clear indicator of where God wants us to set our minds. I think it is less about questionable TV shows, books, or music and more about the realities of our daily lives. When we are in the midst of difficult life circumstances, God’s sweet instruction is to focus on the good. If 10 things went wrong in a day, it’s good and right to think on the one that went right as I fall asleep. Some nugget of good happened today – if not in my immediate vicinity, something good happened somewhere. God’s gift to us in the middle of the bad is the freedom to focus on the good. It’s not sticking our head in the sand. It’s not an excuse to sin by ignoring abuse or injustice. Instead, it’s the manna for enduring through all those other things. 

On any given bad day, God did something good somewhere. Probably, He did something good directly in your life. But like the children of Israel, we see the wilderness and our longing for the promised land, and we miss the manna He provides day by day. We focus on our longing for home, but we miss that our God just PARTED THE RED SEA. We don’t want to wander in the desert, so we take for granted the FIRE BURNING IN THE SKY to direct us. Most of all, we miss in our modern lives the hundreds of ways hour by hour, day by day, our Father gives us manna, our daily bread, to sustain us.

How many times in my life have I longed for deliverance from long term struggle and trial?! That has seemed the norm in my life rather than the exception. Yet, day in and day out, God gives manna. Today that manna was in the form of a visiting friend who loves Jesus, who road on a ferry with me where we got to see killer whales. We dressed for rain, but the sun came out. We laughed, we cried, and we prayed. Manna.

Sometimes it’s gifts of grace from my children (and it’s so easy to focus on the worst that they do, not the best). Sometimes it’s gifts of grace from my church. Many times it’s the gift of sunshine after rainy days in Seattle. It can be a good glass of wine shared with friends. Or prayers said over me from a sister in Christ who called me out of the blue. It’s God’s daily bread, given us to sustain us in the middle of trial. And God says, “Think on that!”

Tomorrow there will be more manna. I’m working out as the Holy Spirit works in me to recognize His manna as He gives it and think on those things that are lovely manifestations of His daily grace. I thank God that I don’t have to think all the time on my struggles. I’m not sticking my head in the sand when I don’t think 24/7 on what is wrong in my life. And I am seeing a profound shift in my mental state as I think more and more on the lovely, pure, and praiseworthy things, no matter how small, that God brings into my life each day.

13 Responses to Thinking on Today’s Manna

  1. Alison April 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Love this post. I started practising thankfulness (attempting to anyway) about a year ago in order to try and save my mental and spiritual health. It really does help!

  2. Wendy April 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Saving my mental and spiritual health. That's an excellent way to put it. I feel the same way.

  3. Jennifer Smidt April 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    once again Wendy – you help redirect my heart…thank you

  4. Jen April 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    The past several months, I've had to hold on to this concept. Monday evening we got our renewal notice for our car insurance, and it went slightly down–in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal, but in my life lately, a HUGE bright spot compared to everything else in my life.

  5. Anna Vroon April 23, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    God spoke to me this morning through his word a very similar lesson to this one. It has been re-inforced and expanded for me through your words here. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Wendy April 24, 2014 at 12:00 am #

    Thank you all for your affirmation of God's work in all of our hearts. It encourages me to keep on.

  7. Pia April 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I read this post yesterday morning and prayed for eyes to see the lovely, pure and praiseworthy of the day, and found it in an unexpected way. I was sitting in a Starbucks drinking some tea and writing lesson plans for a couple of students I tutor. I noticed a regular there, who suffice to say is “not my cup of tea,” as she's somewhat loud mouthed and I have heard her make disparaging comments more than once about Christians. She was alternately talking to those around her and reading a book. When I saw the title of her book, I also saw the answer to my prayer to see the lovely, pure, and praiseworthy. C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. I felt totally rebuked by God and totally loved by God at the same moment. It was glorious!

  8. Liz April 25, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    I read this post this morning, and it came back to me at the end of the day as I was stewing over the day's troubles, to lift my heart to God's goodness–the bright spots that are manna in the wilderness. Thank you.

  9. siva April 25, 2014 at 3:37 am #

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  10. Felicia Strange April 26, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    I just wanted to say “Amen” and thank you so much for sharing that insight. I have a feeling that it will help my mental state over and over again!

  11. Felicia Strange April 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    Also, this reminds me of something I read recently that I thought would be helpful to share about when we are praying and start to “daydream” not to get bent out of shape about it and too down on yourself but rather thank God that He rescued us from any further distraction when He did!

  12. Katie Truelove April 27, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

    Beautiful and timely for me, Wendy. Thank you.

  13. Melissa Woolley April 28, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    Thank you, Wendy! I so appreciate and am encouraged by you!