Manna and miracles
ARE what we call miracles supernatural events that nobody can hope to understand or explain rationally? Or is it that we need to become more expansive -- spiritually perceptive -- in order to grasp their true significance? One of the best-known miracles related in the Bible is the appearance of manna six days a week to sustain the children of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness. And this has become a symbol of how divine provision can meet human needs appropriately. But was it only a special dispensation for special people at a particular time in history, or did it illustrate the continuous, perfect coordination of supply and demand that characterizes God's government of man?
The Bible record says: ``And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.''1 The original meaning of the word manna is literally ``What is it?'' And isn't this very much what we tend to say ourselves if we are offered something that doesn't accord with our own preconceptions?
A miracle really represents the sudden recognition of the good already at hand. But this is remarkable only to stereotyped human thinking. Miracles could happen much more often if the reality of God and man was better understood and applied in individual experience. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, gives this definition of the word miracle: ``That which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly; a phenomenon of Science.''2
If we think of ourselves as simply human personalities providing laboriously for ourselves by well-tried human methods and routines, then anything good that comes along which doesn't correspond to a familiar pattern of cause and effect may seem a miracle. But as we begin to grasp something of our true spiritual nature as children of God, we come to see how God, divine Love, cares unceasingly for the whole of spiritual creation. And when we acknowledge and accept this care we can experience it practically -- not spasmodically or only in dire predicaments but every day, whatever the circumstances may seem to be.
I remember once when, like the Israelites, I was facing a complete change in my way of life and was clinging to the familiar background, reacting negatively to every possible alternative offered. This was despite the fact that I was a student of Christian Science and had had many proofs of God's care over the years.Then one day I had a talk with a Christian Scientist friend who was visiting us at the time. She said that her way of facing up to challenges of this kind was to remind herself: ``Well, everything God has given me before has always been good. Why should this be different?''
I found this standpoint much more constructive, and soon the ``manna'' of divine provision began to appear again for me too. However, the manna doesn't just fall into our laps. We have to put God first, and not just to get something we wantor to be given an automatic handout whether we want it or not. To look to the divine economy through allegiance to the one God is to make better use of the infinite spiritual provision already at hand. It's to gain a deeper understanding, through daily purification of thought, that the true substance of life is Spirit -- that Spirit, God, alone is to be worshiped, is the source and provider of all our needs.
Mrs. Eddy writes, ``The miracle introduces no disorder, but unfolds the primal order, establishing the Science of God's unchangeable law.''3 Christ Jesus clearly proved this many times, and it's interesting that when he fed the multitude with a few loaves and fishes he admonished his disciples, ``Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.''4
So when we are tempted to greet some new situation with trepidation, we can always remind ourselves that it's really an opportunity to reach out again to gather the particular ``manna'' that we need, confident of divine Love's ongoing provision for us all.
1Exodus 16:14, 15. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 591. 3Ibid.,p. 135. 4John 6:12.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. II Corinthians 9:8