Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:26-30)
The Israelites were truly happy as they realized they were now completely free from the Pharaoh and His army. They sang and danced while praising God.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
The LORD is a warrior;
Yahweh is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army
he has hurled into the sea.
The finest of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters gushed over them;
they sank to the bottom like a stone. (Exodus 15:1-5)
God hurled Pharaoh’s chariots and army into the Red Sea. God utterly destroyed the finest of Pharaoh’s officers, who chased down the Israelites following into the Red Sea. There were two walls of water through which the Israelites walked on dry ground. Then God suddenly made the two walls of water collapse as soon as the Israelites reached the other side of the Red Sea.
The two enormous walls of water fell on the Pharaoh’s army when the Red Sea returned as it was. The Pharaoh’s army tried to escape, but God swept them into the sea. The waters covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh. Not a single one survived of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea. The Israelites saw the bodies of the Pharaoh’s army washed up on the seashore.
That is how the LORD rescued Israel from the hand of the Pharaoh’s army that day, and when the people of Israel saw the mighty power that God had unleashed against the Pharaoh’s army, they were filled with awe before Him. They put their faith in God and in his servant Moses.
The entire Israelites wanted to stay there forever. It was the day that they were truly freed from the Pharaoh’s army. From that day, they no longer feared the Pharaoh’s army because there was no more fearful Pharaoh’s army. Now they could go anywhere they wanted and did whatever they liked.
Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. Their feet were light, and their mouths were full of songs and praise. Their faces were filled with joy, happiness, and, most of all, the freedom they had wanted for countless years.
They also hoped to get to the Promised Land. They felt they would reach the land very soon, and nobody doubted. They did not concern about anything anymore for the first time. All things were rosy and bright. They felt as if they were flying with God. Moses looked so precious to their eyes because he took them out of Egypt and gave them the freedom they had wanted for so long. All believed Moses would take them to the Promised Land matter of days.
From then on, they thought that their future was rosy and easy. Everything would wait for them as they desired. However, the land they traveled along was desert. As the sun was getting higher, it was getting hotter and drier. They started consuming water excessively to quince their thirst, and the water they brought quickly ran out. They looked around to find water, but they saw a bone-dry desert.
Even so, they kept believing they would soon reach the Promised Land, where milk and honey flowed. Thus, they walked and walked. None were really concerned about anything, including the water running out. Thus, soon all the water they had ran out, but they saw the same desert. It was the first day. Moses prayed to God for water that night with faith, and Moses believed God would provide water. Moses trusted God without any doubt.
On the 2nd day, they hoped to find water. They were still in the middle of the desert. They hoped to escape the desert by that time, but the desert never let them get out. It was tenaciously with them. It never left them and drove them to a point where they abandoned hope of getting out of the desert. Thus, they actively started searching for an oasis. Moses kept praying for water. Moses believed God would surely provide water, which was Moses’ faith.
On the 2nd day, they searched for an oasis to get water to quench their thirst. Some of them started showing symptoms of dehydration. The mood of the Israelites started to swing too. None sang and danced. Their feet were heavy, and their mouths were dry. Even so, the desert was still with them and never lost its grip on the Israelites. The night was quiet for the first time after crossing the Red Sea, and the worry of not having water to drink took over their hearts. Moses was truly concerned about the situation and prayed even more, that night for God’s mercy and guidance for the situation.
As the sun rose, it was Day 3. They again tried to find a way out of the desert but could not. All actively searched for water, but none was found. None could spot an oasis, although everyone looked out for it. People started complaining, but most of them still hoped. Moses never stopped praying to God for water.
Then someone shouted, “I found an oasis! I can see it far near the horizon in my direction.” Then he ran to the oasis, and soon many followed. A group of young men ran and reached the oasis; surely, there was water. What a relief! They were so happy. They could not express their joy because there was water that they had searched for three days.
Then they scooped water with big smiles and put it in their mouth. They expected it was the time that they quenched their thirst while tasting the water that they had searched for three days. What a joyful moment it would be for them! They thought about their family, friends, and relatives as they drank the water. What a heartwarming moment!
However, immediately all spit out water. The water was too bitter to drink, although the Israelites walked for three days without finding any water. They were completely hydrated, and their thirst level was extremely high. But the extreme thirst could not overcome the bitter taste of the water. What a disappointment! Some collapsed at the scene, and some cried out loudly and wailed. The water was not what they desperately needed.
This news quickly spread to the rest of the Israelites, who were still walking toward the oasis. Soon the water, too bitter to drink, became common knowledge among the Israelites. None was happy about this terrible news. They were frustrated, worried, feared, and terrified at the information. Their hope was completely shattered.
The oasis was their last hope, and even Moses was shocked at the news. He believed God answered his prayer when he heard the report about finding an oasis. Moses also knew not just him. Many Israelites prayed for water because having water or not is a matter of life and death. They hoped for an answer from God but did not get what they expected as they prayed to God.
Then the people started complaining and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. Some tried to stone Moses while blaming Moses, “Moses led us to the place that produces water that we cannot drink.” Only three days ago, they miraculously crossed the Red Sea by the mighty power of God, and they also saw God had utterly destroyed the Pharaoh’s army. Then they all put their faith in God and Moses. It was only three days ago.
Only three days ago, God showed His mighty power when they thought they were doomed by being trapped between the Red Sea and the Pharaoh’s army. Couldn’t they remember what God did for them and look forward to seeing what God could do? But God saved them by opening a passage through the Red Sea and letting them cross the Red Sea by walking on dry ground to the other side. Yes, even their own feet were not wet. On the other hand, the Pharaoh’s army was droned deep in the Red Sea by the power of God.
Now we are three weeks into the new year. In other words, we made our new year’s resolution three weeks ago. From day one in 2023, we presented our new year’s resolution to God for His guidance and protection. What had happened then? Or what was happening in our lives now?
If not all, most of us have already tasted the bitterness of this world. The year 2023 had already brought us such disappointment and pain contrary to our prayers. Even something never expected had happened and started hunting us. It is truly painful. Like the Israelites who spitted out the bitter water, if possible, we want to spit out the bitter things that came with this year. It is another source of pain because it is impossible to spit out this year. Then how to tame such a strong urge in our hearts?
Then what shall we do? First, let’s remember you are not the only one who suffers. Many of us already have a bitter taste and struggle to deflect our strong urge to spit it out. But it is not possible. No matter what we do, this year will be with us for the rest of this year. But surely, it cannot add even one single day, and the length of this year is set and universal to all on earth.
The Israelites could not find water for their three days journey through the desert, which was a real hardship. Then they found the water, but it was utterly useless because it was too bitter to drink. Although they were extremely thirsty after walking through the bone-dry desert for three days, the bitter taste kept them from drinking the water. Don’t we feel camaraderie with the Israelites as we suffer now? Surely, suffering and hardship are common for the Israelites who lived more than 3,000 years ago and for us who live today.
Even today, one single day, throughout the world, how many people are truly disappointed, suffering, devastated, or completely lost their hope because the world does not treat them as it should?
Let’s go back to the Israelites and Moses. The complaint toward Moses was getting bigger and bigger, and finally, the Israelites started picking up stones to stone Moses. Moses hurriedly left the scene and ran to God. Yes, Moses ran to God because the Israelites tried to kill Moses.
Do we see the pattern? One person, Moses, ran to God, and the rest tried to handle the problem with their own hands. Stoning Moses should not be an answer to their hardship, which even looks absurd to us, at least. Why did they become irrational? Only three days later, they became a mob against Moses while killing Moses, the greatest hero, only three days ago. How about God? Did they even remember what God had done for them, what God could do, and especially what God would do for them?
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)
Moses went to God, and then Moses spread out everything one by one to God like a child in fear and trouble. He had no solution at all, and he admitted it before God. All things were exhausted in Moses, including his patience, courage, and even prayer. Yes, he thought his prayer was answered when he received a report about the water found in an oasis. Then he quickly learned the water was too bitter to drink. What, then, should Moses have prayed?
But the situation made Moses run to God, making him speak to God about all his disappointment, frustration, anger, pain, and fear. Without the angry and hostile Israelites, could Moses easily pray to God when he realized the water was too bitter to drink? It was God’s provision.
God waited for the moment. As Moses spread all things before Him, God lovingly and patiently heard Moses. Then Moses emptied his heart, and finally, Moses became silent. God waited, but Moses was only quiet. Moses had nothing more in his heart.
Moses started to feel something changing in his heart. God touched Moses’ heart with His love, mercy, and grace, which Moses needed badly at that moment. Then slowly, God’s peace started filling up Moses’ heart, not the peace of the world, but of God from the above. It took not long before Moses was fully comforted by God being surrounded by His peace.
Moses regained his strength and knew what to do because God told him what he had to do. Then Moses stood up in the power of God and went out to the people who were hostile to him. Then all of them turned their head and watched Moses approaching them. Moses’ face was filled with God’s peace, which was completely opposite to the face of Moses when he ran from the people.
The peace radiating from Moses’ face subdued all anger and hostility in the hearts of the Israelites. The peace radiating from Moses was much stronger than the hostility of all of the Israelites combined. Moses then picked up a piece of wood as God showed him. Then Moses calmly threw it into the water.
Moses loudly proclaimed God’s glory and invited all to come and drink the water that was too bitter to drink. All were hesitant to drink the bitter water again, but God moved their hearts. One by one, the people came to the water and drank it. What a scene! All anger and hostility were gradually replaced with God’s peace and love.
They took the matter into their own hands with anger while showing hostility to Moses, but now God’s peace completely overtook their hearts and minds. One person’s faith in God saved all Israelites.
Moses and the Israelites met the same hardship, and Moses got even more because the Israelites poured out their anger and hostility on Moses. However, the hostility made Moses closer to God and cling to God. God, then, touched Moses’ heart with His unfathomable love and peace. Then the peace had overflown to the rest of the Israelites.
Has this new year, 2023, already treated you poorly? Then let’s remember what Moses did, who talked everything to God like a child, and God touched Moses with His unfathomable love, mercy, and grace to be filled with the peace of God.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)