by Travis Bryan III
The Israelites had just experienced a miracle of God at the Red Sea but immediately they went back to murmuring and grumbling against God. We never seem to learn, do we?
And when they came to Marah (Marah means “bitter”), they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them. Ex 15:23-25.
The lack of water to drink signifies the experience of not having any life, only the experience of death. The tree signifies the cross. Gal 3:13; Acts 5:30; 10:39; 1 Pet 2:24. The Israelites were experiencing a type of death when there was no water or the water was bitter.
The take away from this story is this: Bitter thoughts and experiences will surely come your way in life. The question is what do we do with them? What do we do with our pain? We can transmit our pain and bitterness or we can transform it. We can shake our fist at God and become bitter ourselves. We can grumble and complain to God and others. Or we can transform our death experience into life, the resurrection life of Christ.
The way to transform the bitter into sweet is to bring on line the faithful wisdom of the cross viewpoint, “the faith of Jesus Christ” (Gal 2:16), a viewpoint which Satan cannot destroy. When bad things happen to us we can be enabled to rejoice in the midst of our suffering with the understanding that through the principle of the cross, God is going to turn cursing into blessing, weakness into real power, brokenness into wholeness and death into life. God takes all the bitter bad things Satan brings your way and converts them into positives thru the principle of the cross and the resurrection.
When the waters of life become bitter, realize God is allowing these to bring you more and more into His kingdom. It is only through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22. Bring the cross viewpoint on line in your thoughts and the bitter water eventually will be made into sweetness. There is no true sweetness found in life except thru bitter experience.
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10.
In the last verse of Ex 15, the Israelites came into the experience of resurrection sweetness.
Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters. Ex 15:27. These waters and tall palms signify sweet resurrection life and power.
The statute and the ordinance of the New Testament is the we love because He first loved us at the cross. We know that Satan is behind all bitterness and God’s love is behind all sweetness. We must chew through the bitter coating to find the sweet spots of life! We must first grope in the darkness to find the light. This bitter/sweet is better than any false sweetness the world can provide.
We will never find God’s sweetness of life when we try to escape from, avoid, buy our way out of, numb, drug, deny or transmit to someone else the pains of the cross. Embrace the cross when it comes to you. No pain no gain. No bitter, no sweet. The cross is the only door to a transcendent life.