There is something about need that allows new insights to surface - - about ourselves, and more importantly, about God. Self-reliance insulates us against that nagging and sometimes terrifying awareness of there being an end to our ability. We can spend many decades snuggled comfortably behind that insulation. Its warmth and softness can shield us from the harshness and sharp edges of the world. But snuggled in that little cocoon called our comfort-zone, we are also shielded from something magnificent, astounding, life-giving. Until something rocks our world and cracks open our cocoon, we may never know El-Shaddai.
El-Shaddai is Hebrew for God Almighty, a name that reveals the complete power to provide. Interestingly, the Shaddai part of His name is related to a world that means breast, so the Hebrew scholars believe this name describes the aspect of God that meets all our needs. It tells us that He can and will supply completely, just as the nursing mother provides all her childs physical, nutritional and emotional needs in the act of nursing her infant.
But to receive the Lord in this way, we must come vulnerable, needy. The self-sufficient can acknowledge the almighty power and infinite goodness of God, which is an awesome start, but the one who comes needy goes beyond appreciation of omnipotence and omniscience - the needy enters into a place of trusting the Lord for the very air they breathe - the broken know God in a place of restoration, consolation - provision, grace - hope and confidence. God's power is made perfect in our weakness because we've finally let go of the reins in that place. Grown too weak to hang on, perhaps. However it happens, to know the Lord in a place of our own desperation, causes us to walk in a new confidence in Him, trusting in His faithfulness. We finally emerge from the cocoon, knowing we were not protected by it, but shielded from grace by it. We can handle the sharp edges or the cold, because we know that the Lord accompanies us there, and will not allow us to endure anything that He did not either decree or permit. That thought brings me back to the beginning of my thinking - - it is by the sharp edges that God allows, that our cocoon is split open in the first place.
I'm thinking along these lines as I approach joint replacement surgery to my left hand. I know what the Lord did during the recovery from my right hand. He met me there. Sure I had pain, sure I struggled to do what little I could even do. But that time alone with the Lord in the wilderness... was amazing. I learned what He promises is real. I learned what He says, He'll do. I learned that even when I think He's found me terribly annoying and must be on to more fertile ground, that He is beside me. Consolation is mine, if I seek it, and am willing to be consoled His way... instead of mine. Therein lies the secret to contentment with manna. I have to let God be God, and find joy in being a lump of clay. If I desire contentment, and the truest form of joy, I have to accept His terms, and embrace them as mine.