Wrestling with the unexpected difficulties in life is something I find myself coming back to over and over again. It shouldn’t be a surprise when hard times come. Jesus was very clear that we would face struggles and heartache in this world. But if I’m honest, the weight of life can sometimes make certain days harder to navigate than others.
The story of the Israelites in the desert is one that convicts me every time I read it. On the heels of being rescued from Egypt, and a miraculous escape through the Red Sea, they found themselves at the edge of a vast desert stretching before them. Just three days into their journey, the first test came. With no water in sight, the Israelites panicked. And, if no water was bad enough, when they did find water, they discovered it was bitter and undrinkable. They came to a place called “Marah” which, in Hebrew, means bitter. Can you imagine the lies that tempted to overtake them? “This God of yours delivered you out of Egypt, where you had food and water to drink, to leave you three days in the desert to die, and then tempt you with water you can’t even drink. Some God. Some cruel God.” In that moment, every fear surfaced and they only saw death. It was a bitter situation, indeed.
Where the Israelites didn’t see a way, God did. The test for the Israelites was a question of faith in what they couldn’t see. Without the bitter water, there would have been no opportunity for God to perform a miracle that day. The most difficult situations in our lives are opportunities for God to do the miraculous and turn our bitter situations sweet. Like the Israelites, we want to see what’s ahead, it makes us feel safe. We want to know that all our ducks are in a row, it makes us feel in control. But that’s not faith. And the Bible is clear that without faith, it’s impossible to please God. At the core of our fears, insecurities, and paralyzing anxieties is a lack of belief. Do you trust the God who delivered you to carry you through? The Israelites didn’t see water they could drink, but God did. God saw the sweet in the bitter. He provided it. God chose to bring them to a place where they had to rely on and trust Him completely. Instead of looking to the water for life, He wanted them to look to Him.
You may not see the sweet in the bitter yet, but hold on and have faith. God works all things for good to bring about the sweet (Romans 8:28). The next time you come to your Marah, instead of panicking, have faith that the God you serve is a God who will turn your bitter water to sweet for the glory of His name!
What are some areas in your life you have struggled to fully surrender to God? What are some steps you can take to live a life of surrender and trust?