Finding God’s Provision in Unexpected Places

by Meghan Ryan October 27, 2023
"When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, 'What is it?' For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, 'It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.'" Exodus 16:15 (ESV)

A couple years ago, when I moved for the 10th time in 10 years, I had a meltdown in my U-Haul truck. I don’t like change, so I was a combination of sad, angry and disappointed. I didn’t want to start over.

While I was throwing an epic “pity party,” I realized it wasn’t just about the move. It was about what the move represented: my desire for control and my lack of trust that God was going to provide what I needed in this new season, even though He had previously provided every time.

It seems easier to trust God when we can cling to the comfort of the familiar instead of navigating something new. Which is why I relate to the Israelites’ struggle to trust God as they wandered in the wilderness.

In today’s key verse, we see how God provided food for them: “When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat’’’ (Exodus 16:15).

When God took Israel out of Egypt, He committed to take them to the promised land. But in the change and the unfamiliar, they started to complain. They wanted to go back to Egypt because at least they had food there (Exodus 16:3). In the pain of the unknown, they forgot God’s promises and doubted His provision.

But God met them in their complaining (Exodus 16:12). He told them He would provide bread from heaven just for them every day. The manna spoiled by the following morning, which meant the Israelites had to gather fresh manna every day and trust God to provide it (Exodus 16:4). Still, even when God gave them what they asked for, they didn’t trust Him. They gathered more manna than they needed because they feared He wouldn’t send more. Instead of letting God’s past provision point them to what He promised for the future, they tried to protect and provide for themselves.

How often do we look at what God provides for us and write it off because it didn’t come in the way we wanted it to?

During my move, I was disappointed by my situation. I so desperately wanted God to provide a husband and a nice house we’d own … I missed what He actually did provide: a new place that was an answer to a lot of prayers I had prayed.

God provides in unexpected ways. It’s not just about the manna; it’s about what the manna represents. God sent manna from heaven to represent the Bread of Life He would send from heaven: Jesus.

The manna didn’t look like the provision the Israelites wanted. Jesus didn’t look like the Messiah King they expected. And if we are honest, God’s definition of provision doesn't always look the way we want it to or hope it will. But God’s perfect provision for us is promised in Jesus (John 14:6).

As we meditate on manna, we can be tempted to point our gaze solely to God’s past versions of provision. But when we do, we can miss what He is doing right in front of us. Instead, let’s practice trusting God today by looking to Him to provide what we need through Jesus, the Bread of Life.

We can ask God in prayer to show us how He is already meeting our needs right where we are. The Israelites would be hungry again, but Jesus says in Him we will never hunger again (John 6:35). He did not leave Israel physically hungry, and He will not leave us spiritually hungry either. Manna and Jesus are both proof that God will supply all our needs.

God, thank You for the perfect provision You provide in Jesus. Thank You that in Jesus we will never spiritually hunger again. We repent for our lack of trust in Your provision. When we are tempted to look solely at past versions of Your provision, help us point our gaze to what You have promised in our future. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


If you are exhausted from repeating the same prayers and getting less hopeful, knowing that God can change your circumstances but feeling heartbroken that He isn’t, watch this YouTube video: “When God Doesn’t Answer My Prayers.” Our friend Shae Hill talks about how we can find a gift in prayer even while we are feeling frustrated and forgotten. Click here to watch now, and be encouraged that it is possible to hold disappointment and a desire to pray at the same time.



Find a friend who understands the daily struggles of navigating your faith — connect with Meghan Ryan on her Instagram (@meghanmryan) and her blog,


John 6:35, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’” (NIV).

In what ways might you be missing God’s provision in front of you right now?

What does it mean to you that Jesus is God’s perfect provision for you today? Share with us in the comments!

© 2023 by Meghan Ryan. All rights reserved.

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