“Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” (Exodus 15:22-25)
This passage from the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness serves as an illustration of the power of the Cross in our daily lives. In case you haven’t noticed, life seems to offer us a vast array of opportunities to taste rejection, disappointment, hurt, pain, infirmity, misunderstanding, and sorrow. The fact that the Israelites recognized that the water was impotable — potentially even toxic — was significant! Often we ignorantly take a deep swig of bitterness and end up experiencing its toxic effects for a long time after the poison has been ingested. At least they knew the waters were bitter and unsuitable for consumption.
When Moses cried out to the Lord for help, He showed Moses a remedy in the form of a piece of wood. In the Hebrew, the word is not a log, but rather a tree. Jesus Christ was crucified on a tree and thereby redeemed us from every curse. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'” (Galatians 3:13) In the Old Testament reference here, the word for tree is the same as the word used for log in the Exodus passage. Just as the tree absorbed the bitterness of the water and made it sweet (safe to drink), the redemption provided by the Cross absorbs the bitterness of our sin and makes life sweet. The Cross transforms the bitter waters of life’s painful experiences and losses into a door of hope for restoration and redemption.
Father, teach me how to cast the power of the Cross into every river of pain and loss that I must navigate. You are more than able to absorb the bitterness of my disappointments and give me in exchange a taste of Your sweet living water. Remind me to apply the Tree to every trial, in Jesus’ Name, and watch your transforming power at work!