Then Moses had Israel leave the Reed Sea and go out into the Shur desert. They traveled for three days in the desert and found no water. When they came to Marah, they couldn’t drink Marah’s water because it was bitter. That’s why it was called Marah. The people complained against Moses, “What will we drink?” Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord pointed out a tree to him. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. Exodus 15:22-25 (CEB)
To give a little background about this Scripture text from Exodus, God had already delivered the children of Israel from the hands of the Egyptian army, opened the path for them through the Red Sea, and led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Now, as they travel through the wilderness, they wander without water for three days. The scorching sun made them tired and thirsty.
We have experienced some very hot days this summer and we can imagine how it could have been for the Israelites walking in the desert for three days with no water. Finally they come to a place called Marah where they found some water. As they started to drink, they soon discovered that the water was bitter. The very name Marah means “bitter”. Just imagine how you would react if you were at a restaurant on a very hot day and you order a nice, cold refreshing drink, you patiently wait for ten minutes and finally when the waitress brings it, it is slightly warm and bitter.
In the case of the Israelites, they didn’t have a drink of water for three days. They must have had so much hope and expectation when they saw water, but soon their expectation was turned to total disappointment and frustration. So, immediately, they began to grumble and complain against God and Moses. Max Lucado says, “Their jubilation over liberation soon becomes frustration over dehydration”.
I’m sure all of us go through “Marah” times in our lives. So, how do we deal with our Marah times? Do we react like the Israelites who grumbled and complained? Or do we look to God for solutions? You may have heard or read this before: “No matter what your problem is: don’t nurse it; don’t curse it; please don’t rehearse it. Just call on God and He will reverse it”.
I know from personal experience it’s pretty hard to let go and let God take control of our situations. But that’s what we are reminded in 1 Peter 5:7 where the apostle Peter says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 the Apostle Paul says, “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it”.
Gracious God, we thank You that You are our Great Healer! Forgive us of our grumblings and murmurings and the times we have wandered away from Your presence. Grant us hope and healing, courage and strength to hold on to You when we experience “marah” times in our lives. Use us as Your messengers of hope in the lives of those who are hurting. We love you and we praise You. In Your Holy name we pray! Amen!