Going Through Marah

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Time of testing

When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah”. – Exodus 15:23

Are you going through a testing time in your life? If so, look to God to see what He is trying to teach you. Think about Moses and the Israelites. As they wandered through the desert, they went three days without water. It became a life-threatening situation. Finally they came to water and their hopes skyrocketed. But the water was bitter and undrinkable by people and animals.

They named the place Marah, which means ‘bitter‘. The Israelites grumbled against Moses, their leader. But Moses turned to God, who led Moses to a piece of wood, which Moses promptly threw into the water.

Immediately the water was sweet to drink. It is another illustration of the power and trustworthiness of God, who led them to a lush oasis in the desert after leaving Marah. Martin Luther wrote, “When the supply fails, our faith is soon gone.”

The message is clear. Whatever the bitter obstacles we encounter in life’s journey we can count on God to transform them and use them for good. When we cry out to God about our Marahs, He makes them sweet as we prepare for the next leg of our journey. God is big enough to deal with any problems we face.

But there is an internal story here as well. The bitterness of the water revealed the bitterness the Israelites had in their heart. While Moses trusted God, the people grumbled against Moses. The real story is not the transformation of the water, but of the people.

Their testing was a time of training to turn to God. The tests of life should bend us towards Jesus, to experience him at new depths. The cross is the tree that sweetens the waters of life.

Tests reveal the true condition of our hearts, as we experience the grace and true character of God. Tests may not be pleasant, but like the water at Marah, they can purify.

As said by Pastor Barry Chesney, “Remember that when we encounter a Marah in life, we are passing through, not camping out.”

By John Grant

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John Grant is a former Florida State Senator and is a practicing attorney
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