By Kristi Bothur © 2012

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deut. 8:3

I think about food a lot. When I wake up in the morning, I know I need to get breakfast on the table for my family. When noontime rolls around, I see if there is anything beside peanut butter and jelly in the pantry to feed my daughter for lunch. I think about our schedule for the week in terms of what nights we will be home for dinner and plan grocery store runs to match.  And when have we gotten together with friends or family without food coming into the picture? Food encourages fellowship, conversation, and togetherness.

Food dominated the thinking of the ancient cultures, too.
Far more than our culture of fast food, refrigeration, and plastic storage containers, food for generations in the past was a matter of survival. Food spoiled in a matter of days, or even hours. Much of the day would be spent in the finding or preparation of food to sustain life.

So when the ancient Israelites journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land, food was naturally on their mind, too – so much that when they lacked it, they even thought that living as slaves with food was better than being free without it (Ex. 16:3).

God's answer to that was to rain down bread from heaven every morning – otherwise known as "manna." He did that for 40 years, until the day they entered the Promised Land. Day after day, he provided for them, showing them that he was their God.

That could be the end of the story – a simple tale of God's provision for his people. Except that before they entered the land of Canaan, Moses reminded the people of all that God had done for them in their wanderings, and showed them the real lesson of the manna – he told them that God allowed them to be hungry, and then fed them with manna, a new food, to teach them that "man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD" (Deut. 8:3). God wasn't just meeting their physical need; he was using their physical need to teach them a spiritual lesson, that life was ever so much more than having daily bread. It was about being in communion with and hearing from God.

That is a lesson that I need to remember on a daily basis. So much of my life is consumed with the physical – not only what we are going to eat, but do we have clean clothes, is the car running, is my home clean, what is on our "to do" list today, and did I get yesterday's list done? Sometimes it takes a lot to slow me down long enough to remember that life is more than this. Behind the physical tasks and chores lies a spiritual world and my spiritual sustenance comes not from my daily bread, but from the Word of God.

Jesus knew that. When Satan came to him in the wilderness, he knew that Jesus was literally starving after 40 days of fasting, and tried to get him to turn stones to bread. Jesus' response was to quote this very passage of Deuteronomy. He knew that ultimately His sustenance would come not from physical bread, but from the words of His Father.

Can I say that as well? Do I immerse myself in the Word of God often enough, regularly enough, that when I am tested and tossed and tempted, I know where to turn and where my real strength comes from? I wish I could answer with a resounding YES, but God knows the things that so easily crowd out my time with him – many of them urgent, but none so important that I can't take time to read his wonderful words of life.

Whether you are feeling tossed and tested by life's storms right now, or it's a quiet time of peace and tranquility, make sure you take time to feast on the Word of God. Like the manna in the wilderness, God provides what we need in his Word, day by day, to sustain us in the wilderness and bring us to his Promised Land.

Father, my own personal wilderness has me feeling hungry and empty. Please help me find sustenance in your Word. Help me to make time for it, help me to understand it, and help me to find others who will encourage me in it. Let your Words sink into my soul and give me strength for each day. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of four - one on earth and three in heaven.  She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life.  She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven (  You are welcome to contact her at  Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband and daughter.

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