Remember when the Israelites were walking in the desert complaining because they needed water? They had just crossed the Red Sea three days before and watched their enemies drown behind them. They knew God could take care of them.
Was it wrong to need water? No.
Was it wrong to doubt God would take care of them? Yeah.
Do I do that? Yeah.
But this story gives me pause. They finally reached a spring, and the relief and joy that must have filled their thirsty souls! They must have told their little ones - there’s water!
But then it was bitter. They called it Marah, which means bitter. Job hunting is like that. We need work, we find something. Maybe a conversation, maybe a text. A slice of hope, a pool of water in the desert. But then nothing comes of it. A friend forgets to send the resume. A conversation doesn’t turn into an interview. A first interview doesn’t turn into a second.
And I was carrying that bitter water around like a cup full of fear, unwilling to drink it. Receive it. Know that this is what He has for us right now. The end of savings and benefits - that’s in God’s goodness too.
Back to the Israelites. You know the story. God told Moses to cut down a tree and throw it in. Why? It must have seemed bizarre to them. But they did it. And what happened?
The bitter water turned sweet.
Why that extra step? Maybe, maybe God wanted them to sit there and smell the moisture, feel the hope, and know they were powerless to meet their own need, because what they thought was their savior - wasn’t. Maybe, maybe, dependence is more important than met needs and answered prayer.
But more likely - the tree whispers a prophecy. That one day, a God-man would show up and walk up a hill bearing a tree. He would stretch out hands that had only ever brought healing and life. And nails would pound into flesh, and a tree would be thrown into the ground, and a man would hang between earth and heaven.
And all the bitter water would become sweet.
Sometimes, we need to drink the bitter cup in faith. To receive the trial with patience. Not seeing the end. To count Him faithful because He is. Not because there is a paycheck, but because there’s more than here and now. Are the skies turning blue or more gray? I don’t know.
But how that tree makes the bitter sweet.