From Bitter to Sweet

By Jade Kessler 

   The names of God in Scripture tell us about the character of God. One of my favorites is Jehovah-Rapha, or “The God Who Heals.”

In Exodus 14 we read the exciting story of how God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites walked through escaping a life of bondage and slavery. Wow! What a miracle!  

But those Israelites quickly forgot God’s deliverance.

 By chapter 15 they had a new problem- they needed water in the desert and the only water around was very bitter, entirely too bitter to drink. So they started complaining to their leader, Moses. One of their favorite refrains was, “Oh, if only we had stayed in Egypt. At least we had water, at least we had food…” 

They always seemed to look back on their slavery with rose colored glasses, almost fondness. 

Their slavery was terrible! There was nothing comfortable about it…but it was familiar. 

Trusting God was not familiar. It wasn’t always comfortable. It was scary.

 But in their moment of need, God chose to reveal Himself to them in a new way. He told Moses to do a strange thing. He told him to throw a tree into the water and the bitter water became drinkable. God spoke to the Israelites and said “…for I, the Lord, am The One Who Heals.” (Exodus 15:26)

God was showing them their need by letting  them see that HE was their solution. They needed something far greater than just water--they needed a Healer.
   Life has many pools of “bitter water.” So many times we are just like those Israelites- enslaved by anger, fear, depression, addiction, hatred, disappointment, self loathing, abandonment, pride, selfishness…anything can be our captor. We are miserable, uncomfortable, and abused by our captor. And so many times we keep going back because it is “familiar.”

But I am so thankful that we are not destined for a life of servitude. We are not without hope of deliverance.

 “The Lord has anointed Me (Jesus) to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me (Jesus) to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1 

 In the story of the bitter water,  the tree made the difference. In our story-our own pools of bitter water- the tree of Calvary can make the difference if we allow it. 

Only Jesus through His death on our behalf can take all our pain-all of our own sin and the sins that others have committed and we have suffered because of- and heal it. 

If we confess our own sins to Jesus, turn every part of our lives over to him, give Him total control over EVERYTHING-the good, the bad, the pain, the empty places-HE WILL HEAL IT. 

But not only will he heal it, He can take those very things that we have been enslaved by and turn them into something beautiful, something we could have never imagined.

 I don’t understand how He does it. It is beyond explanation. But I know it is true because I have seen it with my own eyes.

   The Israelites had been miraculously delivered. Each day that they got up presented them with a choice-to move forward trusting God to continue to provide and heal like He had already done OR turn around and head back into the slavery and misery of Egypt.

 We have that very same choice. 

We can choose to walk away from the captivity of our pain and allow The One Who Heals to flood all the broken empty places inside us with His love. We can choose to get alone with God and use that time of quietness and solitude to listen for God’s voice calling us to wholeness.

 I am not suggesting that He will make it all magically go away and that it won’t be painful anymore. As long as we hold onto it it will NEVER be anything other than pain. But if we will release it into God’s capable hands He can redeem it and make it into something of value, something more than just pain. 

Beloved, you are a very special, and very loved! (Jeremiah 31:3) You were created in the image of God Himself. (Genesis 1:27) God has a plan and a purpose for your life that only you can fulfill. (Ephesians 2:10) Please don’t give up if the water is bitter. Ask the Healer to make it sweet. 

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