Spiritual Sopapillas

I know you came here for the dessert, but first, let’s talk supply and demand.

I’m no mind reader, but I know what you’re thinking. “Did I click the wrong link? I thought this was more of a devotional blog, but this appears to be an economics lesson.”

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. Even if you’re actually looking for an economics lesson, just hear me out.

Do you remember what supply and demand is? Maybe you’re a CNBC aficionado and you can give me a hundred definitions, ranging from Mark Cuban to Jim Cramer. In case you can’t, here’s a really simplified definition: The less supply of a certain commodity, the more demand. The inverse is equally true: the more supply, the less demand. It’s a simple concept that holds true in almost every economic system.

But then our sinful hearts take over. Allow me to introduce you to the backwards economics of an unfaithful people.

You see, we get it backwards way too often. We worship a good God. He is amazing to us. He provides our every need—not only is that the promise of scripture, but it’s not hard to find a testimony to the truth of that. But the thing about us sinful people is that we never seem to have enough.

The law of our spiritual economics is often closer to this: as our supply increases, our demand increases. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of your experiences and see if you’ve reacted that way in the past. There’s a good chance you don’t want to do that—I know I for sure don’t. That hurts. I don’t want to inflict pain on myself.

Turns out the Bible has plenty of examples of this.

One that really comes to mind is when the nation of Israel has been rescued from the land of Egypt. They see God perform all kinds of crazy miracles which, by the way, are specifically to help bolster the Israelite’s faith in God (as well as convince Pharaoh to deal kindly with the Israelites), and then come up to the Red Sea and start complaining that Moses has led them to their grave. They’ve just seen amazing things and even gained enough favor to leave Egypt with all kinds of valuables, not to mention their freedom, and it takes like 8 sentences for them to start complaining.

Don’t worry, you’re nothing like them. (Where’s that sarcasm button, again?)

Once in the wilderness, the thirsty nation finds a stream with undrinkable water and they grumbled to the Lord again. We’ll see that word “grumbled” a lot here.

Finally, in Exodus 15:26, it seems like the Lord has kind of had enough. He basically tells the Israelites, “Look, I haven’t led you astray this far. Just trust me, and I promise everything will work out for your good. I love you and I’m going to take care of my kids.”

Then guess what happens? He does it. He’s faithful. Spoiler alert: He’s always faithful.

He provides this amazing thing that the Israelites call manna.

We don’t know a lot about this magical stuff (Manna actually translates to “what is it?” so even the Israelites weren’t sure what it was), but there is a brief description in Exodus 16:31, “It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”

Now I want sopapillas.

Imagine a world where God provided sopapillas that were actually nutritious, didn’t cause high blood sugar, and met every need. It’s hard to imagine better. I’d like to think I’d be content and not complain, but if reading the OT has taught me anything about humans and our propensity for depravity, it’s that we can find a way to whine about even the best things. See: the rest of Exodus.

Or go a couple books to the right and find Numbers 16 where Israel is fed up with the manna. Pun totally intended. God is providing this delicious and nutritious spiritual sopapilla and this stubborn people still finds a way to complain. As a species, we’re hopeless.

The good news is two-fold. For one, the Lord is forgiving. He knows our nature. That doesn’t make it okay, but He is ready and waiting to show mercy to us. And what a great encouragement that is! But we also have ample opportunity to grow.

Malachi 3:10 shows us that if we are faithful to Him, He will pour out His blessings and faithfulness back to us.

Matthew 6:25-34 tells us how the Lord provides for and sustains all things, and how much more He loves us! So we needn’t worry.

John 15:7 reminds us that God wants us to succeed, and will equip us to do just that. He is glorified when we bear fruit, and He provides everything we need to be the fruit-bearing disciples He has created us to be!

Is gratefulness easy to come by? Not hardly. Can we just flip a switch and appreciate everything we have without complaint? I really wish I could tell you yes. But I haven’t found that switch yet.

We can, however, change our habits. We can soak in the word of God and let the truths of His faithfulness wash over us. We can record how He has provided for us, so we can always remember what He’s done when we’ve forgotten—just like the Lord asked Israel to do.

It’s not easy.

What is the manna in your life that you’re taking for granted? What is the spiritual sopapilla that you’ve forgotten to be grateful for? I strongly encourage you to take some time today and make a list of the amazing things God has done for you—bonus points if they’re things you complain about. I know I could fill a notebook with that list. Or two or four. And here’s the important part: spend some time thanking God. And I mean really, deeply, passionately thanking Him for what He’s done.

Maybe go one step further: make this a weekly practice. It’ll do wonders for your heart. I can’t think of a more refreshing habit.

Go out there and flip that supply and demand upside down—and truly enjoy that spiritual sopapilla.