Exodus 16:15; 14:21-31
“When we come to the cross of Jesus, everything changes-especially our inner selves. Whatever we are accustomed to in our personalities or character, if those qualities don’t line up with Scripture, they must cease. Just because some actions are the norm in your life doesn’t mean that they are right.” -Priscilla Shirer
The life of an Egyptian slave had to be hard. Every day was not your own; it was filled with the back-breaking monotony of constant labor. Nothing a slave did was appreciated or rewarded. While their bodies suffered the scourge of the Egyptian whips, their minds suffered as well. De-humanized and valueless, it was easy to allow bitterness to grow in their hearts. Why should they be thankful, their lives were miserable?
It is easy to allow the misfortunes of life to embed discouragement and soul-crushing bitterness into your heart. As you allow it to grow, the bitterness becomes part of your personality and transforms your character. You rationalize your actions as bitterness mars the person God created you to be. “It’s just how I am.”
When you read the story of the children of Israel’s first three days of freedom, like me, you probably are in awe of all God does to show His presence and reassure His great love. They had been saved from slavery-Check. They were rescued when their backs were against the Red Sea -Check. Their enemy destroyed when the parted Red Sea came crashing down-Check. They were led by a pillar of fire at night and cloud by day-Check.
Yet when you sinfully hang on to, “It’s just how I am.”, there is no praise, no happy dance, just bitterness. “Hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (14:11) .“The people murmured, what shall we drink?” (15:24). “the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured (griped and complained)” (16:2). “for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (16:3). “the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: … your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.” (16:8). With all their complaining, God leads them to Marah. “ And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.”(Exodus 15: 23) Sometimes God has to let us drink a tall glass of our bitterness so we can see clearly how he sees bitterness and how it affects the lives of others. We can only change when we see our bitterness as sin.
Exodus 15: 25 says, “ And he (Moses) cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet”. Honestly, Israel did not deserve the sweet water, but neither do I. This one event gives us a glimpse at God’s character. He provided for them, not because they had been grateful or had faithfully and joyfully followed Him. God turned their bitterness to sweet water, because HE IS FAITHFUL.
Notice the tree. Bitterness can only be overcome by the One who died on a tree, for us. Your past has created bitterness in your heart , but you choose to sits behind a wall of rebellion , nourishing that bitterness. The Israelites teach us that until we release the grip bitterness has on our lives, we cannot experience the joy and victories that God has planned for our lives. Father, you know my heart and the bitterness I have allowed to mold and shape my character. I don’t want to linger in bitterness. Please heal me and replace my bitterness with your forgiveness and joy.