All this week I am reviewing the posts that were the most visited during 2012. I will return to Matthew next week!
This post was a lesson that God was going to continue to keep in my heart through the year. While it had a big impact on me, several readers made their way to this post as well and it is one of the most read posts of 2012. This post is special to me because God led me to new treasures through this lesson; treasure that equaled joy in the midst of trials. The beginning of the year had bitter water...this post was only the start of the water; however, God also showed me such wonderful healing of my disappointment. Some things too personal to pen but such wonderful encouragement and healing in my heart. God certainly has an intimate way to reach the inner most parts of our hearts, doesn't He?
Bitter Water Made Sweet
I am still reeling from yesterday's study of God making the water sweet at Marah. I may be wrong, but I think that is the first time God calls Himself Jehovah Rapha, which means the Lord who heals you. This is not at all a coincidence that He would call Himself their healer when He healed the bitter water at Marah. Remember that our God can take the bitter water of life and give us the living water we recieve through Christ - the ultimate healing! This lesson from the bitter water of Marah is so amazing to me and I want to go back to it for one more day. Please read Exodus 15:22-27.
Without recapping yesterday too much, I just want to go back to the fact that the Israelites had traveled the wilderness for three days without coming to a source of water. Dehydration can cause weakness, extreme thirst, weak heart beat, racing heart, and an inability to think clearly. Picture back to the Israelites feeling some of these symptoms and coming up to water. Can you imagine their relief and excitement when they saw the water at Marah? Then imagine as they dip their hands in the water and take the first taste to find out that it is undrinkable. It probably felt like a cruel joke. These people were in a great deal of discomfort, maybe even to the point of feeling sick and all they can find is bitter water.
It may not be literally bitter water, but we have all had our taste of bitter water. For me, I have had a taste of bitter water when our house in Michigan (we relocated to New York) that has been for sale for over two years finally attracted someone's attention. That person put an offer on our house that is now up for sale as a short sale; however, a few days later they pulled their offer. That left a bitter taste! It is hard to explain why after spending so much time praying about this that we would finally see the light of hope only to see it taken away. We have seen friends go through difficult situations as well and feeling like they finally saw an answer to prayer only to find out later that it wasn't. That is bitter water.
But God is our healer. Notice in these verses that He didn't lead them to new water, He healed the bitter water. He brought them joy from their hopes that had been dashed to the ground. Think on this for a moment. Imagine how great their joy must have been when God healed the water and made it sweet. Perhaps their difficulty or anguish is what made their joy all the greater because their relief was all the greater. James 1:2-4 says, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way consider it an opportunity for great joy. For when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete needing nothing."
It is so hard to grasp the idea of finding troubles an opportunity for great joy, but yet it is there in the Bible. Maybe the sweetening of the water is a direct answer to prayer, or maybe it is sweetened by the work God does in us through the difficulty. We can have joy knowing that God can sweeten the bitter water - He can heal the disappointed heart. Over these last couple of days, I'm learning to pray that God sweetens the water I have been led to. Please notice that in Exodus 15:25 that God tested the Israelites with His decrees and reminded them that He is the God who heals. Just as James tells us that the testing of our faith is for our good, God tested the Israelites to bring them to a place of faithfulness. Notice verse 27; God took them to the oasis of Elim where they found 12 springs and 70 palm trees. Water and shade! After their time of testing, they were able to rest for a while.
Do you need God to heal your heart? Do you need Him to sweeten the bitter water of pain and disappointment?