After Praise, Pressure!
Lord God of defeat and failure, victory and success, help me to grow through the ups and downs of life.
Read Exodus 15:19-27
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Those with life problems have more opportunity to recognize their need of God’s healing because the evidence is right there in front of them” (John Townsend).
As Miriam takes up the chorus of praise (20,21) the first crisis hits the escaping slaves–no drinking water. The series of trials in the desert reveals more of God’s character as provider, but also shows the Israelites’ lack of faith, their immaturity and unwillingness to follow their leader. How often do we fail the most basic tests of our faith, and have to come back to God in repentance, to receive his ever-available forgiveness?
The four crises in the wilderness wonderfully illustrate God’s care of his people, and the precarious nature of Israel’s faith. The lack of drinking water (22-27), the shortage of food (16:1-36) and the second water crisis (17:1-7) bring testing of Israel’s faith through natural causes. The unprovoked aggression of Amalek may be ascribed to human sinfulness, but God is patient with his people. Their ingratitude for provision is obvious, and their resentment does not diminish even when they are abundantly supplied. They have yet to learn that attitude of thankfulness which the truly forgiven experience. How often in our lives and our churches does a complaining, grumbling attitude prevent us from enjoying a God-given acceptance of others and of our own situation?
The wood thrown into the bitter waters of Marah has been seen symbolically by Jewish tradition as a metaphor for the instruction God gives–a “tree of life” (Prov. 3:18)–and by Christians as a veiled allusion to the cross of Christ. The wood may have been a porous log able to filter out the impurities in the water. It demonstrates not only the physical transformation of the water to make it sweet and drinkable, but also reminds us of God’s ability to turn our bitterness into joy.
Bring before the Lord the challenges you face today. What attitudes can you change, even if circumstances don’t?
How much I need Your wisdom Lord! Teach me by Your Spirit the life lessons that will lead me to trust You more.
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