Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore, it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" Exodus 15:22-24
Bitter things. No one likes bitter things. But bitter things are part of life. Life is not all honey and no bees. Roses do have thorns ... and all people face "bitter waters" from one degree or another.
The Marah story in Exodus 15 is especially significant. You see, in Exodus 14 God's people had just seen and personally experienced the greatest Old Testament miracle: the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of Pharaoh and his armies. The people take the first 21 verses of chapter 15 to rejoice and dance and sing over the great power of God. Life is good, and God is awesome! Hallelujah!
But then something happens that quickly silences their song and steals their joy. Within three short days, they run out of water ... and when they finally find water, it is bitter and undrinkable. They are facing Marah, and they begin to grumble, gripe, and complain.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
How do you respond when you encounter the bitter things in life? What comes out of your mouth when the car breaks down, or the computer crashes, or sickness comes, or your job goes away, or the finances dry up, or your spouse wants out? What do you do when you face Marah?
1. The wrong thing to do is grumble. The Bible says, "Do all things without grumbling" (Philippians 2:14). God hates grumbling, and He takes all of it personally. The people grumbled at Moses ... but Moses wasn't leading the group, God was. They may have thought they were simply grumbling at a fallible man, but they were really grumbling at the infallible God. In Numbers 14, they again grumbled against Moses, and God said, "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me" (Numbers 14:27).
2. The right thing to do is trust and pray. Moses didn't grumble, he cried out to the Lord. He knew that they were in need, and the God who was faithful to bring them through the Red Sea just three days earlier, would be faithful to provide them the water they needed to survive. Listen my friend, God did not bring you this far to drop you in the grease. In your Marah, trust and pray. The Lord is faithful!
3. The right thing to do is factor in the cross. God answered Moses' prayer by showing him a tree. And when Moses threw in the tree, the bitter waters were made sweet, and the people could freely drink. What does that tell us? In every Marah, factor in the tree of Calvary, the cross on which Jesus died. The cross transforms every bitter experience and turns every negative into a positive. At the cross, all our sins were paid for, and access to the Father was freely granted to all who would believe. The cross makes all the difference in the world.
No matter what Marah you may be facing today, God can use it for your good and His glory as you factor in the cross. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
The cross can enable you to forgive the unforgiveable, love the unlovable, and overcome the insurmountable. So what are you waiting for? Take your Marah to the cross, and see God do a miracle.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.