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What is This? - A reflection by Christine Bor

“What is this?”, I demand, frustrated that God would allow this.

“What is this?”, I cry, in anguish that God would allow this.

“What is this?”, I sigh, exhausted that God would allow this.

What is this thing that disrupts me from my day, my life, my comfort, my routine?

What is this thing that once again disproportionately affects marginalized communities who have experienced the systemic oppression of food and housing insecurity and healthcare inequality for centuries?

What is this thing that exposes and highlights the compounding of racial disparities and blatant prejudices?

Manna is manhu, which in Hebrew translates to “What is this.”

It’s an honest and brutal question. The Israelites were starving in the desert and when God gave them something to eat, they had the audacity to ask, “What is this?”

But here I see the same audacity creep into my heart, my thoughts, my prayers. I question everything He places in my life and instead question, “What is this? How dare you? I thought you were a good Father?”

And as I begrudgingly began to reflect on Psalm 23 as the current events unfolded, I was struck by verse 6 that reads “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Surely goodness and mercy. These two things haven’t been divided into separate categories or placed on different shelves. They are merging together, in tandem and both full of purpose and intentionality. Goodness and mercy. Goodness. AND. Mercy.

Surely, in spite of my doubt, God promises that goodness and mercy will be there with me and also with you. And even in my undeserving nature, His abundant love will follow me all the days of my life.

But what about the suffering, injustice, and evil around me? What about the pain, the unknowns, the too-difficult-to-sort-through experiences? I find myself, like sheep, so quick to get lost in these questions without my Shepherd.

“What is this?”, I ask, this time in a posture that is trying to understand that pain and peace collide contentedly as God allows both.

“This is sustenance”, He answers. Not in a cruel, or reckless, or detached, or “I told you so” way. But in a grace-filled way. In a merciful way. In a “I wanted you to trust in the hope only I give you” way. In a restorative way.

What if this thing, or experience, or season is the manna we needed to make us reliant on God? To make us push towards His heart? To come before Him in repentance for the things we have placed higher than Himself on the Throne?

The truth of manna for the moment recenters me in this way. Though I question God’s goodness and mercy, He reaches down and provides manna. Day after day, He provides something that makes me have to trust in the hope that He will provide for me the next day.

I don’t know what areas of your life you are asking “What is this?”, but I do know that God fully intends to provide sustenance in your life, and sometimes in forms that we don’t want or appreciate. Rest with me- that we can eat of this manna and see the purpose in it.

Christine Bor has been a member at Northside for two months. What she enjoys about NCR is the community she's found that sees her, knows her, and loves her. She is currently pursuing her MSW at VCU with a specialization in Child and Adolescent Trauma. 


  1. This is powerful. I am moved and convicted by the line: “I do know that God fully intends to provide sustenance in your life, and sometimes in forms that we don’t want or appreciate. ”
    Thanks CB for sharing this!!

  2. YES! Thank you, Christine. Goodness AND Mercy ... pursuing every day of our lives.


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