The Salvation Army Food Bank crisis we highlighted recently on LinkedIn underlines the relevance of the story of manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16).
Manna – what is it?
That question is exactly what the Hebrew word ‘manna’ means. When the Israelites were in the desert, God provided food they did not recognize – it appeared as ‘thin flakes like frost’ (Ex 16.14-15). So they asked ‘what is it?’
Not only was the outward appearance of this food unique. So was its very short shelf-life. When some Israelites ignored God’s instructions and gathered more than they needed, the next morning it was full of maggots (Ex 16.20).
The scene in many grocery stores resembles that of those unruly
Israelites. Hoarding is leaving needy people deprived. There is plenty of food, and other supplies. But it is stacked away behind walls of fear erected by those who have more than enough.
In this context, we need to emulate two virtues. Both are missing from those Israelites but they pervade the words of a fellow Israelite – the farmer-turned-fugitive David. They are the virtues of contentment and trust. No stranger to danger and deprivation, he wrote that because the Lord was his shepherd, he would lack nothing (Ps 23.1).
Many people find they now have more time on their hands than they expected; packed diaries have shed their entries. They are finding new opportunities to put those virtues into practice by serving those in need, even while observing the current lockdown.
This is largely due to electronic means of communication and community, through which no virus can be transmitted. It is also because homes today, from where most of us are now compelled to work, are better supplied with light, heat, power, refrigeration, water and sanitation than at any other time in history.
These things – food, supplies, technology and utilities – are at our disposal for such a time as this due to the providence of God. This providence has expressed itself through human creativity and ingenuity, made productive and profitable through business.
May this inspire new ways in which business can help provide solutions to the new set of needs with which we are now confronted. May future historians look back on this period as a time when business found the vision and innovation it needed to fulfil its vocation to serve the common good.