Have you felt like you are drinking the bitter waters of dire circumstances?
Do you hear grumbling and complaining about the state in which you find the world coming into your mind, and sometimes maybe even out of your mouth? It can be so challenging to keep our focus on “things above” when things here and now are feeling out of control, or flavored with hopelessness. Is it possible to rise above our situations and truly live in the realm of peace that is beyond our comprehension?
I was reading about the Israelites in Exodus 15 recently. Most of the chapter is a beautiful praise song about the power of a great God who led them out of the most impossible situation of their lives, one that had plagued them for generations. He had done astounding things to free them from a life of slavery that was all they had known. Right before their eyes, He worked miracle after miracle to bring about freedom – and they walked through the Red Sea on dry land. What an incredible adventure! I would love to be in on those conversations as they pulled their carts and wagons and carried their bundles of all they owned through high walls of water, noticing that NOTHING was getting wet, they weren’t getting stuck in the mud… and as they emerged on the other side into a new place, the enemies chasing them were victoriously removed! Of course a shout of praise would be heard, endless dancing, and celebrating, exclaiming what power their Father has!
Surprisingly, the end of the chapter tells of a huge turn of events that stumps them all. As the singing and shouting die down, and they begin to travel, they feel thirst. Soon they are no longer thinking the lofty thoughts of how powerfully they were delivered because the demand for water in their bodies gets louder and louder. Three days of no water can feel like an eternity when traveling through a dry, hot desert. Can you hear the cries of the children, the bawling of the animals who are carrying heavy loads? Now, even the parents can’t comfort the kids, because they are also losing their footing and fainting from dehydration. The recent joyful praises have turned to loud complaining and demands of their leader, Moses. I find it interesting that it is now Moses’ fault, and they are complaining about his leadership when they have a great need, but don’t think to look to God who had just done mind-blowing miracles that very week! (How quick are we to blame our situations on bad leadership, rather than get Heaven’s perspective of how we can walk in victory?)
Moses leads them into the Valley of Shur, and there at a place called Marah they find water. Imagine the frenzy to get there first! And then the surprise as they spew out the bitter water from their mouths, now angrier than ever! Once again, they want to make it Moses’ fault the water is bitter and they have nothing to drink. Moses desperately cries out to God for an answer, and He shows him a tree. He tells Moses to put a branch of the tree in the water. Moses’s verbal response is not recorded, but I can imagine the look on his face when he considers this directive. “Did I hear right? A TREE?? What good is that gonna do?” Oh to have the quick faith of our brother Moses, and obey immediately – even when it isn’t logical!
He puts the branch in the water, it sweetens the water, everyone gets to drink and the situation is once again turned around by an unbelievable miracle.
This roller coaster of highest praise, to lowest desperation, to amazing relief in a short time is not so unlike the rides we find ourselves on in our everyday. Some of us live at that level of intensity most of the time, and some of us have a milder ride, but still find ourselves in need of relief and a miracle.
The One Who Sweetens Our Lives
The One Who sweetens our lives, because of a tree, gives us the ability to rise above our circumstances and see from Heaven’s point of view. We can do this BEFORE we partner with a complaining spirit or an accusation against the leaders in our lives by spending time in praise and intimate communion with Him; committing to Him our every need, desire, or opinion. Jesus paid a high price on that tree to give us the gift of victorious living in all of our circumstances. This gift of grace, His ability IN us, lets us rise above all we are facing, no matter the degree of severity, to walk in unending love and clarity.
Place your circumstance, your situation, or of those around you in His capable hands, trusting Him to give you answers and lead you into victory. He is not surprised by what you are facing, He has already made a way through…let’s partner with the One who loves you more than you know to accomplish what He is doing, and walk in that peace that goes beyond our understanding.