Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. Exodus 15:22-25a NIV
Did you know that 99% of people come to know the Lord in the midst of a crisis. When he comes to them in response to their cry for help and brings forgiveness, comfort, love and guidance, there is often an emotional high. Yet within days, they face a new crisis that stirs up the old insecurities and pain. It’s much like a roller coaster ride.
That’s exactly what happened to the Israelites at Marah. For several hundred years they had been slaves in Egypt. The Pharaoh provided for their needs – food, water and shelter, but it cost them and created a debt they could never hope to repay. They “owed their souls to the company store” and as their masters beat the men, raped the women and killed their sons, they grew demoralized and impotent, losing their will to fight back.
Yet God sent Moses to deliver them from their slavery. They partied at the Red Sea when God washed their enemies away as the walls of water collapsed on them. The people rejoiced because of their emotional high. But when they came down from that high after three days of wandering in the wilderness of Shur, they realized how truly powerless they were.
In a very real sense, they were experiencing withdrawal symptoms from their former life. Leaving their slavery mentality behind meant making many new changes for people who had no idea what to do or how to do it. So they grumbled and resisted the leadership of Moses because they couldn’t drink this bitter water.
Many of them had unrealistic expectations of what it would be like to follow God. They didn’t like feeling down and thirsty after the rollercoaster high of the Red Sea. Maybe they expected God to do some new amazing thing to prove that he still loved them and to renew that emotional high point for them.
But God began their wilderness healing right there at Marah. As a trustworthy parent, he provided for their need for water, but he didn’t yield to their perceived need for the thrills, chills and vibrations of another Red Sea miracle.
To avoid those emotional roller coasters, learn to look for God in the small things, the ordinary things of life. He doesn’t always answer with dramatic waterworks. Sometimes it’s the small pieces of wood, those seemingly insignificant, every-day things, that have the healing properties to make the bitter experiences of your life sweet and bearable again.
What everyday circumstances, events or people has God placed around you to help you heal and live a Christian life? Rather than giving up in discouragement when you hit an emotional low after a breath-taking high, start looking for him in the small things. He’s always there if our expectations don’t blind us to his presence.
Learn to know him in the small, every-day experiences of your life!