COVID19 lockdown. Divorce. Accident. Loss of job. Forest fires. Hurricanes. Sickness. Cancer. Vandalism.
Birth of a baby. Job promotion. Successful surgery. 65th anniversary. Winning a lawsuit. Publishing a novel. Answered prayer.
Miracles. Challenges. What then?
Let’s look at Exodus 15 … The children of Israel had a rich history of miracles. The preservation of their lives during the season of the plagues. Escaping from the clutches of the enemy. The crossing of the Red Sea. The pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day. The destruction of their enemies.
Wow … what a mighty God they served!
The children of Israel came through the Red Sea on DRY ground. Moses led the people in a fantastic praise-filled song. Then Miriam led the women in song … both sang “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown in the sea!”
Moses led the people three days into the wilderness … three days and no water to be found.
Finally, “Dad look! There’s water ahead! Let’s hurry I’m SO thirsty!” Bending over they fill their cupped hands with water and slurp it into their dry parched mouths only to spit it out because it was so bitter. And the complaining begins.
How quickly we forget when facing the next trial.
I would probably complain also even though if I thought for a bit and remembered all that God had done for me in the past … just maybe I would say, “God, You can do it again”. But no, the people quickly forgot the miraculous and began to complain.
They complained against Moses. Moses knew where to turn and he cried out to the Lord. The Lord answered with a strange instructions! “See that tree over there? Cut it down and throw it into the water!” Not those words but that was the command … AND when obeyed … the water became sweet and drinkable. Problem solved.
This became real to me as I pondered all that is going on around me today. There is a lot of bad stuff going on and it seems to be getting worse. I have come to bitter waters. What to do? Do I sit here and complain “Why, God? Where are You?” Or can I look back and see the monuments that God has erected in my life. The miracles of answered prayer. His provision in dire circumstance. The near escapes, His protection, His healings in my life.
The waters are deep. The waters are bitter. I feel I am drowning. There is no way up. THEN … I see the tree! THE CROSS! “Father, you made a way to make the bitter sweet! You provided salvation, deliverance, healing and ALL that I need! Let me drink deeply from the sweet waters You have provided!”
And look at the last few words of verse 25 … “and there He tested them”! How does God “test” us? If we had everything we wanted, in the way we wanted at the time we wanted … we would be spoiled brats! Just as we teach our children so God teaches us lessons, tests, so that we might learn to grow into the persons He wants us to become. Oh that I could learn my lessons the first time!
By the “tests” we endure, we learn how to trust God, to rely on Him, to see that His promises are true and that He will never EVER leave us or forsake us. We probably won’t see Him, there will be times when we won’t feel Him … but He IS there … all the time!
The children of Israel surrounded by miracles, faced with a life threatening emergency, God answers … now it’s test time.
In verse 26 God speaks, “IF you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”
How did they respond? How will you respond? To make it intensely personal … How will I respond?
Will I come through this time of testing? Will I find sweetness out of bitter?