Talking with high schoolers about the manna story in Exodus, I asked, “Have you ever received help right on time and out of the blue?” Immediately, two hands went up. The first student told a story about trying to pay for cookies with cash at a place that only took cards; a stranger used their card and took the students’ cash. The second hand told the same story, but at a different place, and with a stranger who outright paid for the food.

I know, there’s a lot of privileged real estate between freed slaves on the run in the desert and American teenagers trying to buy junk food with $20 bills. But why blame the teenagers for that? They are where they are. Also, privilege is relative; getting turned away by an adult when you’re trying to buy food for yourself as a minor is an acute experience of economic and social distress. Materially well-off though they may be, God knows American teenagers don’t have a lot of power or agency over the adult environments they inhabit.

Your next interaction with a teenager may be, for you as well as for them, manna from heaven.

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