Devotional Thoughts for Today
“From Bitter to Made Sweet”
Exodus 15:22-27 (ESV)
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. There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.
The Christian life is not easy. Rev. William Taylor, a preacher in New York City at the end of the 1800s, wrote, “We may learn that we are not done with hardship when we have left Egypt.” It is just as Jesus said to his disciples: “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). He warned us in advance that we do not have an easy path to glory.
There will be Marah in your life at times. After the Israelites had sung that great song of Moses and Miriam, rejoicing over what God had done, they marched to their first oasis, Marah. For a large company of people driving animals, the constant search for a well, an oasis, any source of water, would’ve been difficult in the desert.
The problem was that when they reached Marah, its water was so bitter that the people couldn’t drink it. That’s why the oasis was called Marah, which means “bitter.” Naomi uses the same word in the book of Ruth when she tells her daughters to call her Marah because her life had been so bitter (Ruth 1:20).
In that moment, Moses “cried out to the Lord” (v. 25), and the Lord provided a log that when thrown into the water, made the water sweet. “I am the LORD, your healer” (v. 26) presents a new name for God: Jehovah Rapha. The God of deliverance is also the God of healing, and He will take care of Israel every step of the way in the wilderness.
I believe the bitter water at Marah is symbolic of what was going on inside the hearts of the Hebrews. When freedom was not as easy as they had hoped; when circumstances were not what they desired, their hearts began to be filled with the diseases of bitterness and resentfulness. God knew their need for healing from bitterness and He longed to bring that healing to them.
God can heal our bitterness and turn it into something sweet. The next oasis on the journey was Elim, which had 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. A time of refreshing.
Let’s apply this lesson to our hearts today. I invite you to allow Jehovah Rapha to examine your heart. “Are there ways that you are more like the Israelites than you care to admit? When God doesn’t work in our lives in the way that we think He should, does it lead to bitterness? When God’s timing is different than we had hoped, do we harbor resentment against Him? Let Jehovah Rapha (the Lord who heals you) examine your heart and heal you of the diseases that sin inflicts upon us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, there are deep wounds, broken hearts, and incredible pain that I want to bring to Your throne of grace. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, don’t let my heart become a garden filled with resentment and bitterness. Have mercy on me, Lord; grant me healing, freedom, and lots of grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 21
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 12:15: See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
Job 5:2: “Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.”
Ephesians 4:31-32. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Questions to Consider
- What are the some of the causes of bitterness?
- What are some of the consequences of bitterness?
- What is the cure for bitterness?
- Much of our bitterness and anger towards others is rooted in our inability to be profoundly amazed at Christ’s love for us in our sin. If you are struggling with bitterness then it may be that the Lord is letting the very sin that is flowing from your inability to see Christ as the means by which you come to see him.
- Bitterness is like poison that infects our lives. The author of Hebrews compares bitterness to a root that overtakes our hearts and causes trouble in many other areas of our lives (Hebrews 12:15). Although our feelings of bitterness, anger, and resentment may seem justified, they are not. Instead, they’re hurtful and destructive—to ourselves as well as to the person who hurt us.
- We must forgive. “Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you” is an unbelievably important word from Ephesians 4:32. Because we have been forgiven by God for things that are mortally dangerous, it should open the door for greater grace towards other people. We need to be stunned at God’s grace in a deeper way regularly. Out of that experience can flow grace towards others.
I invite you to think of a situation or person where feelings of bitterness have festered. God’s Word teaches us to forgive and instructs us not to let the sun go down while we’re angry. When we do, we give the devil a place to work in our hearts and relationships. Instead of allowing the enemy room to plant relational weeds between us, choose forgiveness, extend grace, and prevent a bitter root from taking hold. Make a commitment to “let go of any bitterness” and to “forgive those who have hurt you.”