EXODUS 15:22-25: “Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.”
OBSERVATION: How do we deal with disappointments and setbacks in our life? Have you ever had the experience of a great victory in you life, only to turn the corner and be facing an even greater disappointment? Israel had just seen the Lord deliver them from the great army of Egypt as they miraculously walked across the Red Sea on dry ground, and the pursuing Egyptian army was swallowed up by its’ waters. Celebrating their victory in song as they traveled they could not find any water. Then they came to Marah and found water, but they could not drink it because it was bitter. This was no small thing for a company that numbered somewhere around 2 million people in total. So what did the people do – they did what most would do – they grumbled at their leader.
In essence they were grumbling against the Lord. When we face disappointments in the same way, so are we. It is easy to trust the Lord in the midst of the victory, but the real test of faith is how we trust Him in the midst of the disappointment. Many would look for a secret formula of faith that would eliminate this equation from life. If I only quote the right verse, if I only say the right thing, if I only offer up this gift… In my reading on this verse I came across this quote from the late great Bible teacher – J. Vernon McGee:
“You may not realize it, but the oasis of Marah is a normal Christian experience. When a bitter experience comes to a Christian, it is a puzzling and perplexing thing. Some people say, “Why does God let this happen to me?” I cannot tell you why certain things befall Christians, but I do know that God is not punishing them. He is educating them and preparing them for something. The Lord said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” Right on your pathway there is a Marah. In the pathway of every believer there is a Marah. God has arranged it all. Someone has said, “Disappointments are God’s appointments.” I have found this to be true.”
I have found this to be true also. In fact, I am facing some “Marahs” in my life as I write this. Does this mean that I have missed the will of God for my life? Did Israel miss the will of God for their life as they followed the pillar of cloud and fire to the banks of the Red Sea? Did they miss the will of God for their life as they followed the pillar of cloud and fire to the waters of Marah? The answer is no! They were brought both times to the threshold of a new opportunity to learn how to trust the Lord. These “Marahs” in their path were God’s opportunities to increase their faith. Is it any different in ours?
Lord, as I look upon the “Marahs” that I face in my life may I humble my heart and cry out to you in full assurance of faith. Grant me the Grace to trust You fully and wait patiently for Your provision. I know that you will either make the existing waters I face sweet, or you will lead me to Your provision of water for my life. Forgive me for doubting and empower me with Your Holy Spirit so that I might stand fast in the full assurance of faith. In Jesus Name!