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Summary: How do you deal with the bitter waters of life?How do you deal with distress, disappointments, and frustrations. How did Moses deal with bitter waters in the wilderness?

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On Dealing with Bitter Waters

Is there anything more refreshing than a cold drink of water? On a hot summer day with the sweat pouring down your brow and your dry throat crying for relief from the thirst, is there anything more refreshing than a cold glass of water? A coke is good. An energy drink helps. But there nothing that really satisfies your thirst like a cold drink of water.

The annual Phila Distance run was held last Sunday as 13000 runners ran the 13.1 mile event. I ran in the first Philadelphia distance run in 1978. I ran it in less than 2 hours at the age of 55. But how refreshing it was to drink a cold glass of water after such a grueling and perspiring run. There is nothing like water. A person can live a long time on bread and water. But you cannot survive too long without water. Your body begins to dehydrate and you are in for big trouble.

I went into the hospital about a year ago suffering from dehydration, hemorrhaging in the brain from an injury I received when I was mugged earlier in the month, and distress over my wife’s diagnosis of lung cancer. Water is often compared with life itself. We can’t live too long without water.

Can you think of a situation more desperate than being in a hot desert with no water anywhere to be found? People have gone mad and become delirious for want of water. Can you imagine yourself going without water for days at a time?

But this brings us to the situation in our text today. The people of Israel have escaped bondage in Egypt. Moses has led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. They have miraculously escaped the pursuit of Pharoah’s army which was drowned in the sea while the people of Israel walked over on dry ground. It is a time for great celebration over what the Lord has done. Now they are on their way through the wilderness to the promised land.

But it wasn’t too long before they are faced with the reality of the situation. Sometimes we are so thrilled and elated over something good that has happened in our lives that we overlook some realities that are starring us in the face. Sometimes our bubbles of enthusiasm burst when we face reality.

So it was with the Israelites. After 3 days journey their supply of water given out. There is nothing like going without water for 3 days that will cause you to face the reality of the situation. They cannot live on excitement and enthusiasm. They need some water to drink in order to live.

Doing some research, I discovered that after the first day’s journey they stopped at a place where there was water, but it was too salty to drink. The flocks could drink from that water, but not the people. The second day’s journey brought them to another stopping place, but there was no water there. The people were getting a little anxious now. But Moses told them not to worry.

Remember Moses had spent 40 years in this part of the wilderness. He knew that another day’s journey would bring them to a place known as Malha in the Arabic language. Moses knew that the water at Malha was fresh and good to drink. Moses told them, “Hold on for another day and you will find fresh water to drink.”

So despite their weariness and thirst they march on refreshed by the anticipation of drinking from that well of fresh water. But when they arrived at the well the next day they found the water was bitter. What happened to the fresh water? What went wrong? Had Moses lied to them? What made the water turn bitter and undrinkable?

There is a logical explanation. A rainstorm had come up earlier and the rain had washed the mineral salts down from the cliffs into the valley, causing the water in the well to become salty, bitter, and undrinkable. What are you going to do when the storms turn the waters of your life into bitterness?

The water at this place was normally fresh and good to drink. But rainstorm had polluted the water, making it undrinkable. How frustrating and disappointing can it be when the waters of your life turn bitter. Can you image the frustration of the people as they drank the water, but had to spit it out because it was bitter and salty? With tired and aching bodies they press forward anticipating a cool refreshing drink of water to quench the awfulness of their thirst. But the water is bitter to taste. They renamed the place, Marah, which means bitter in Hebrew.

What do you do when the waters of life become pungent and acrid--as tasteless and bitter as a dose of quinine? What do you do when you encounter unpalatable and unpleasant situations on the journey of life? How do you deal with bitter waters? What do you do when you face the bitter waters of disappointment in life.

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