I’ve asked my share of deep questions. Sometimes I’ve been blinded by those questions, failing to see the heartache of those around me, failing to care what situations were laying bare my friends and family, failing to wipe away my own tears long enough to catch someone else’s. Sometimes, though, those deep questions have been the substance of the manna that I’ve found outside my lonely tent door and been able to offer to others sojourning with me in the desert.
“What is it?” asked the Israelites. It is gift. It is Heavenly bread. The bread of brokenness. The bread of contentment. The bread of grace and joy. Manna is a contradiction of provision. It is the feast prepared before us in the presence of our enemies.
Sometimes, I’m learning that we are the manna. Sometimes, we are the substance of provision provided to others. Our brokenness is Heaven’s gift to someone else. It is a small token of the Body of Christ broken for us.
Maybe this is why eucharisteo – the table of thanksgiving – is both crushing and sustaining. Dying to live. Grace, joy and redemption in the surrender to sacrifice. As Christ loved, died, and offered himself, so we love, die, and offer ourselves for others. This is the life of eucharisteo – the life of thanksgiving.
This morning I opened my email inbox to read these words from a student:
Dear Mrs. Hasz,
Over these past few months I have been struggling with a lot of different difficulties, and this week and last weekend were those moments that are just the pit of sadness for me. I felt the Lord compelling me to email you. I know you have not had the easiest time over the past few months with your friend’s baby, your neck, and maybe other situations that I do not know of . . . . I am writing it because I want to know your secret of why you are so happy. You inspire me so much, because I know you probably haven’t had the easiest life and I feel empathy for you. I want to know though how and why you so content with your life. . .
Silent rivulets wet my face, as I sit in awe. These many months that I have been wrestling with God, cloaked with the smell of death, someone else has been obtaining life. As II Corinthians 2:14-16 proclaims, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
I’m not sufficient. I haven’t been sufficient. But, I am a partaker of grace, a partaker of Christ. In years past, I might have pridefully boasted of the “joy of the Lord” that characterized my everyday habits. I might have wondered why others were not singing and worshipping. Humbled, I now know. Shackled. Grieving. Angry. Disappointed. How can one give thanks for these things?
A mystery is slowly unfolding before my eyes. Joy. Giving thanks in ALL things. Willingly partaking of brokenness and pain. Grace. Hope. The substance of Heaven left by my tent door.
The secret of contentment is the giving of thanks for every gift and the surrender to the Giver’s purposes. I was given a gift when I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C (a fatal diagnosis) at age 12. Hundreds of Russian students heard my testimony of Jesus’s plan to give me a “hope and a future,” and many accepted Christ as their Savior. I was given a gift when my grandmother’s sudden death left me bereft at age 16. She’s got a pretty cool mansion now with a spot for me. I was given a gift when anorexia nearly claimed my freshman and sophomore years of college. I learned to flee depression and choose life. I was given a gift when my friend trusted me with the gory details of her rape. There is enough grace for that too. Now, I am being given a gift in the form of infertility. I’m facing fears and doubts that all dread to unbury. I am finally becoming my childhood prayer: “Lord, make me a living sacrifice. Holy. Acceptable. This is my reasonable service.”
Reasonable service. Not out of the ordinary. My life laid down. My dreams reshaped. Surrender to the Maker’s unfathomable plan. Embracing eucharisteo. Hiding no longer behind a proud facade. Manna for others. Manna for me.
I’ve got an email to answer.