I recall the day my dad first brought Swedish Bitters home. This herbal drink is more than a hundred years old and some say it cures up to 40 different health problems. As a kid, I hated it because it was bitter. Like kids everywhere, I only wanted that which is sweet. It does not take long though for every person to discover that this journey called life has many joyful hilltops and many bitter waters along the way.
Take Israel when they left Egypt – they experienced a great deliverance from Pharaoh, walking through the Red Sea along the way. In Exodus 15:1-21, we have that beautiful song by Miriam, sister of Moses, rejoicing and praising God for this deliverance. A few days after, the people were in another life and death crises.
Exodus 15:22-25a (New Living Translation) says: “Then Moses led the people… and they moved out into the desert of Shur… for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink… the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink.”
This is a great lesson right here; one moment we could be on the hilltop of joy, and the very next moment in the oasis of Marah, in the place of bitter water. Like our brothers and sisters in Lebanon right now; one moment life was normal and the next a devastating explosion from out of nowhere, shattering their lives.
At this bitter moment, “Moses cried out to the Lord for help”; the Good News Bible says “Moses prayed earnestly to the LORD”. The solution came, and the bitter water became good to drink, wow! Like everyone else, I have known hilltops of joy and bitter waters. In recent times, the stress of life under Coronavirus and other bad news just seemed too much. I join Moses in trusting in the Lord for help in these times.
Dear God, our shepherd, lead us to sweet waters, we pray, Amen!