The Spring in the Desert
“They journeyed for three days in the wilderness without finding water . . . the people grumbled to Moses, ‘What are we going to drink?’” (Exodus 15:22-24)
Just before they grumbled about having no water in the dry desert, Miriam had led Israel in a hymn to the Lord for His miraculous deliverance. The song was, “Sing to the Lord for He is highly exalted; He has thrown the horse and its rider into the Sea” (15:21). This was the Red Sea the LORD had just divided, made dry land to appear in its midst, and used to swallow up every single one of their pursuing enemies. If God can make dry land to appear in the midst of water, why was it so hard to believe He could also make water appear in the midst of dry land? They eventually did come to water at Marah, but it was undrinkable.
No sooner had they lifted their songs of praise to God, did their tune dramatically change. A new enemy—the enemy of thirst—was now drowning the miracle that had drowned their former enemy (the Egyptians). After three days of fighting this foe of thirst, their exalted praises turned to excited petulance, and God’s unparalleled miracle faded in the rear-view mirror and was soon swallowed up by their current struggle. However, directed by God, Moses threw a tree into the bitter waters at Marah and it became potable. This may remind us of another “tree” that turned the bitter wastelands of sin into springs of Living Water.
What the Israelites did not know is that God’s super-abundant provision was only five miles away at Elim (less than two more hours of walking). There they would enjoy twelve springs and seventy date palms. So great was this provision that they were able to dwell there for a good while. If they had only trusted God’s shepherd for just another couple of hours and walked a little further in faith, they never would have grieved God with their grumbling unbelief.
The above could also remind us of another three-day thirst—when Christ the Living Water was brutally removed from His disciples through His death on the cross. Between His death and resurrection, Christ’s disciples drank from the bitter cup of fear and sorrow. They did not know that God’s super-abundant promise was only one miracle away, when His mighty power would raise Christ from the dead. Calvary’s tree turned bitter waters into thirst-quenching springs of eternal life for us. On the cross, He hung and cried out, but now at God’s right hand He sits and reaches out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). He is the Spring in the desert, and so great is His provision that we are able to dwell there eternally.
If you are struggling in a baron wilderness and feel like quitting, keep going; abundant relief is not much further away. Do not let your feelings dictate your actions, but rather put-on faith, trusting in God’s immutable goodness and loving-kindness. Such a tragedy it is to see so many believers quit in fear and unbelief not knowing that a gracious promise of abundant provisions was just a few faithful steps away. Even more than this is how so many believers choose to stay trapped in the sinful habit of grumbling and despair while remaining stubbornly oblivious to the fact that peace and joy are just one selfless act of kindness away to someone else; or better yet, just one prayer closet away.
If a person died of thirst with an endless spring of water at their disposal, it was their own stubborn fault, not God’s. How much more refreshing is a glass of water after being parched? How much more delicious is food after being famished? How much more rewarding and overwhelming is God’s deliverance after a long season in the desert?
Experiment: If you’re not thirsty right now, go get a drink of water and see how fulfilling it is. Then, the next time you’re parched from some grueling workout or labor, grab a drink and take note of what the same water tastes like. I think you get the point. Now do you see the great mercy in God’s prescribed wilderness for His children? Jesus is still the Great Spring in the desert, without which we would never fully appreciate Him. If you’re in a wilderness right now, thank God for it, don’t grumble or faint—you’re just a short distance away from one of the most profoundly fulfilling drinks from Jesus you have ever had! Deserts always end with a greater fellowship with and revelation of God. Though they are not necessarily enjoyable, they are worth every grueling and dry step. Who can say Jesus’ resurrection didn’t make His crucifixion and all the pain it caused infinitely worth it?”
Written by: David Frazier (President ARKASE Bible Institute, Biblical Counselor (AABC), BA Christian Studies, MA Biblical Counseling, Th.D.(c))