Has life got you bitter?

Published 1:53 pm Thursday, April 23, 2020

In Exodus chapter 14, we read that God instructed Moses and led the children of Israel across the Red Sea on dry land. The sea then swallowed up Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. Once the children of Israel saw the great work of the Lord, they believed upon him, and upon his servant Moses, but rapidly all that began to change. In chapter 15, Moses led the children of Israel into the wilderness of Shur, and after traveling three days into the wilderness they found no water to drink.  As a rule of thumb, a person can survive without water for about three days. They had reached their three-day limit and you can imagine the dehydration that had taken hold upon them. Then they came to a place called Marah that had water, but, the name Marah means bitter. The water was too bitter to drink. To have water available but unfit to drink seemed a horrible tease. The people began to complain and grumble against Moses, and the bitter water.
Let’s take a look at all the definitions of the word bitter. Bitter means distasteful or distressing to the mind; marked by intensity or severity; accompanied by severe pain or suffering; being relentlessly determined; exhibiting intense animosity; harshly reproachful; intensely unpleasant especially in coldness or rawness; expressive of severe pain, grief, or regret. There is no positive connotation to the word bitter. So, not only do the people have bitter water, they are in the middle of a wilderness. A wilderness is an empty or pathless area of a region that is completely desolate. I want you to stop and think about their situation for a moment. You can imagine the frustration and anger that would come from this amount of difficulty. After a month of this pandemic, we are starting to see the same. Many are tired, frustrated, bothered, angry, and ready for things to go back to as much normalcy as possible. We are starting to see the effects on this virus all around us. Protests are now happening for the government to open businesses and others on the opposite side are proclaiming that we must continue to shelter in place to stay safe. The frustrations are growing, and bitterness is spreading quickly. We must be careful not to let this root of bitterness spring up inside of us as Christians!
Moses took immediate action in this dire situation! He consulted the Lord by crying out unto Him. The Lord then pointed out a certain tree to Moses and had him cast the tree into the bitter waters. I hope you already see something unique and special here. There is a special tree that we must look to that can turn bitter waters sweet again! This tree is a symbol of the Savior! With his spreading branches, and top reaching to heaven, he suffered the axe for our sakes. When you cast this sweet-smelling Savior into your bitter waters, things will become sweet again, no matter how bitter they have become. Water is a symbol of life, and it is easy to allow things into our lives that make them bitter and unfit. We must cast the Lord into our bitter marriage, work, family, church, and this pandemic! The tree had been growing just for this reason and particular time, but the tree had to be hewn down to make a difference. Jesus was hewn down to make our bitter sin-filled lives sweet. When you bring Christ into any tough situation, things will always go from bitter to better!
Moses cut this tree down and cast into the bitter waters of Marah and immediately the waters were made sweet. They began to drink the waters hydrating their lifeless bodies. Here is what Moses goes on to say to the children of Israel in verses 26 and 27, “26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. 27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.” Moses tells them that if they keep the commands of God by doing what is holy and righteous, none of the diseases would harm them and he would heal them. He gave them a promise. Moses then shared with the readers that he and the children of Israel traveled onward to Elim where there were twelve wells of fresh waters and ten palm trees. God had brought them through Marah and had provided a way of escape into a better place.
I hope you can see the parallel between what we are experiencing today and this powerful story. Let’s trust God to bring us through and let’s live according to his Word! Let’s continue to cast Christ into the middle of this pandemic through prayer and fasting, and we will be delivered in His time according to His perfect will! Better days are ahead! Keep Believing!
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, David Odom.)

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