Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How do you deal with bitterness?

The story of the Exodus lead by Moses continues in the third part of this week's Bible Lesson, God the preserver of man.

They have now crossed through the Red Sea and their enemies were swallowed up by the closing waters so they are no longer being chased. The reality of their decision to follow Moses and leave Egypt was setting in. They did not immediatley arrive at the Promised Land, they were in a wilderness that offered few material comforts.  There may have been times in your spiritual journey when you have left behind people or things that were limiting you or keeping you in some kind of bondage. It may have been a bad habit which you have now taken steps to break. It can feel very much like a wilderness to you. And the things you left behind may call out to be restored. You may even wonder if they were really all that bad. At least compared to where you seem to be now.

Their first challenge was the need for fresh water. (fresh thoughts?) When they came to Marah, the name means bitterness, the waters there were not fit to drink. They began to 'murmur' about Moses and asked him what they were supposed to do. Moses turns to God for answers and God shows him a tree. There are several plants whose bark and leaves are employed to sweeten bitter water. These trees did not contain magical properties. The 'miracle' was in God pointing them out to Moses, who was not familiar with them. He casts in the tree and the waters were made sweet. Their thirst could now be quenched.

They soon ran out of food and there did not appear to be anything they could eat. Instead of learning from the previous example of God's providing and preserving, they again murmur against Moses, and lament having left Egypt where even though they were slaves, they were given ample food. Moses speaks to God and now the answer comes in an unexpected form. God sends bread (manna) every morning and meat (a quail-like bird) every evening. They are being taught to leave behind their false ideas about God. This time of wandering is slowly undoing the results of all those years of reliance on other gods. This is His proof of who and what He is. And it is renewed day by day. No need to stock pile (it will not last anyway) as it is provided fresh each day.  When you are working out your own salvation, there may be times when you find the going hard. But God is there and active on your behalf. Mrs. Eddy writes: "...God knows our need before we tell Him or our fellow beings about it. If we cherish the desire honestly and silently and humbly, God will bless it...) (S&H p.13)

He provided for those wanderers and He will be with you in your 'wilderness' as well. Instead of complaining and dwelling on what you seem to be without, focus on all the good that is ever appearing around you. God will point out that 'tree' and it will take away your bitterness. Rejoice that Life, and your life, is sweet.

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