Summary: This morning our focus is on yet another name for God – Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.
Beth and I were out on a driving date Monday night. It’s one of our favorite things to do. We just get in the car, pick up a couple decafs and talk while we cruise the town. As we were going down one street, we saw three young women walking to their car. I slowed down because it was icy and just then, one of them slipped and went down hard on the curb. I pulled over, got out of the car and went over to them. By the time I got there, they were in their car and had started to drive down the road. I flagged them over and asked if they were OK. The one who had fallen was crying and holding her arm very gingerly. I told them that my wife was a nurse and asked if she wanted Beth to look at it. She got out of the car and after giving her some suggestions, Beth told her she might need an X-ray. As I helped her back into the car, I told her that we would pray for her. She and her friends said thanks and headed for help.
It strikes me that this individual was in need of three types of healing that cold night. She certainly needed physical attention. She needed emotional support because she was sad and afraid. And I’m assuming that she needed some spiritual help as well. Maybe you’ve had a fall yourself. Perhaps you’re dealing with a physical frailty right now and you’re exhausted emotionally. Or your past hurts are still causing present pain. And there’s a good chance that you’ve slipped spiritually at some point in your life. One of my roles as a pastor is to pray with people when they are broken physically, emotionally or spiritually. Pastor Jeff and I have been with many of you when you’ve had to face some pretty tough stuff. If we were to add up the amount of agony and pain represented in this congregation it would literally take our breath away.
This morning our focus is on yet another name for God – Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. This name is first revealed shortly after the Israelites were unshackled from their bondage in Egypt. They have just passed through the Red Sea on dry ground. The people are excited to finally be free and so they express their praise in the first part of Exodus 15. Look at verses 1-3: “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.” God is referred to by two of His names (Elohim and Yahweh) in this song of praise that lasts for twenty-one verses.
But then their praising turns into a time of protesting. In verse 22 we read that Moses led them into the “Desert of Shur.” “Shur” means a “wall.” And that’s exactly how they felt. They had run into a wall of despair instead of a window to blessing. Some of you feel like you’ve hit a wall. After wandering in the wilderness for three days, and having no water to drink, the people turn on Moses at a place called Marah, which means “bitterness.” By the way, this is the name Naomi chose for herself after experiencing incredible pain and disappointment in Ruth 1:20.
God’s people go from giving praise to grumbling their protests because when they finally find some water, they soon discover that it had a very bitter taste. Talk about disappointment! They were probably very excited to locate this refreshment only to have their expectations shattered. In verse 24, they put Moses on the spot: “What are we to drink?” The people are angry with God but they take it out on a person. We do that as well, don’t we? Someone has said that anger is a magnet in search of metal, and the closest metal was Moses. We tend to take things out on others when we don’t get what we want when we want it.
When we’re pumped up everything seems great but then there’s that inevitable let-down. We certainly experienced that as a church during the 40 Days of Purpose Journey. We were riding high and then came back down to reality as we headed into some deep and bitter waters. The Israelites saw God provide in making a way through the Red Sea but now they’re thirsty. On top of that, now they have a bitter taste in their mouth. Some of you may feel that way this morning. You’ve gone from high expectations to great disappointment to heavy discouragement.