Exodus 16 is about “contentment,” a necessary component of faith.
Israel has already demonstrated herself to be a nation of whiners – malcontents who are willing to rebel at every perceived misfortune. She was paralyzed with fear when she saw Pharaoh’s armies (to the extent that God had to say: “What are you yelling about? Press on!). At Marah and Elim she grumbled because the water was unfit for consumption. In chapter sixteen she “grumbles” about the lack of food.
Do understand: these are real problems, and there is nothing wrong with making your needs known to God, or even showing frustration to God when your back is against the wall and you don’t know what to do.
But that’s not what is going on here. In each case, Israel complains and grumbles against Moses.
Was it because she was afraid of the Lord?
Perhaps. But I rather think that Israel grumbled against Moses because she did not recognize her situation was really the work of God. It was, to her, a human exercise, a hair-brained scheme of Moses he had duped them into accepting.
Like Israel, we often want to blame others for our troubles. We would do well to at least consider that, perhaps, our trials are a necessary part of our deliverance. I’m not saying that’s always true, only that we should consider the possibility. So, for example, when financial reversals come, it could be our own mismanagement that has brought them. On the other hand, God may have brought them Himself, deliberately, that we might learn to make do on less, learn to be content with enough bread for the day at hand, and trust Him to take care of the future rather than depend on ourselves.
Health reversals may result from the natural aging process, or from our own personal inattentiveness to physical well-being, or perhaps, God wants us to realize that none of us was intended to live on the earth forever. Our hope is not here, but there, in His presence, and life here, short or long, is but a time of readying for an eternity with Him.
One way or another, God has brought us to this time and place. He will lead us home, and contentment amid all adversity and dependence on Him is a sign of faith. Indeed, without them, faith does not exist.