Handling unmet needs and disappointments (Thoughts from Exodus 15)

Hi friends, how are you this month?  I hope you are all doing well, with very few unmet needs and disappointments.  However, they are a part of life, so let’s discuss how to handle them.

The Israelites showed us one way to handle them in Exodus 15:24:  “The people grumbled to Moses, ‘What are we going to drink?'”  Let’s backtrack a bit and see what led them to that comment.

Exodus 12 tells the story of the first Passover, the Egyptians experiencing the death of their first-born and Pharaoh ordering Moses and the people to leave.  The Egyptian people took part in getting the people to leave in a hurry.  “Now the Egyptians pressured the people in order to send them quickly out of the country, for they said, ‘We’re all going to die!’ “(Exodus 12:33).  The Egyptians gave the Israelites silver and gold jewelry and clothing (Exodus 12:35, 36).  They were willing to give them what they asked for, they just wanted them gone!

Exodus 14 tells the story of the Israelites going through the Red Sea on dry ground and of the Egyptian army pursuing them and drowning.  Exodus 15 begins with Moses leading the people in a song of praise to the Lord, and Miriam, Moses’ older sister, playing a tambourine and leading the women in singing praises and dancing to the Lord.  It was a very happy, very victorious time.

Then they journeyed into the wilderness for three days.  Day one, no water.  Day two, no water.  No water for the adults, for the children, for their livestock.  Day three, no water.  Then they arrived at Marah — and there was water!  Can you hear the shouts of joy, see the smiles of the people’s faces?  Finally — water!  The legitimate need was met.

The smiles were short-lived.  The water was bitter.  It was undrinkable.  It had looked like a solution to their problem, but it was a false one. The water was a huge disappointment.  So the people grumbled to Moses.

I think if I had been there, I probably would have been one of the grumblers.  I’d like to think that I would not have grumbled, but I know myself better than that . . . I’d like to think that I would have said to the people:  ‘Hey, remember God parted the Red Sea for us.  He had to handle a lot of water to do that!  Maybe He can handle a lack of water, too.  Let’s ask Him to do it for us!”  But, I probably would have grumbled with the rest of them . . .

It is not recorded that Moses responded to the people’s grumbling.  What is recorded is that “he cried out to the Lord” (Exodus 15:25).  Moses did not ignore the problem.  He did not ignore the fact that he had no idea how to solve it.  He took the problem to the Lord.

He took the problem to the Lord — and he got a solution.  The Lord showed him a tree and when Moses threw the tree into the water, the water become drinkable (Exodus 15:25).  I have no idea how throwing a tree into bitter water makes it drinkable.  But it did.  It was a creative solution that worked.  The problem was solved.

When I next have an unmet need, when I am bitterly disappointed, what will I do?  Will I withdraw from the relationship or situation that I think is hurting me?  Will I grumble and complain about how rough life is?  Or will I, like Moses, have the good sense to cry out to the Lord and act on the creative ideas and solutions he gives me?  That’s my challenge to myself this month . . . I encourage you to cry out to the Lord about any unmet needs or disappointments you have.  May God show you all good things and creative solutions to your challenges.

And remember, when we go through hard times, God sometimes has a deeper purpose.  At Marah, God made a statue and a ordinance for the people.  He gave them a very special promise. Exodus 15:26 states  “If you will carefully obey the Lord your God, do what is right in his eyes, pay attention to his statutes, I will not inflict any illnesses on you that I inflicted on the Egyptians.  For I am Yahweh who heals you.”

The Israelites had faced a lack of water.  They ended up with a promise that God would be their healer.  How great is His love for them and us!  Let’s follow Him, cry out to him when we face disappointments and challenges, and let Him heal in us what needs to be healed in us.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers.  Used by permission.  Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.)

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Seeking to live closer to Jesus and enjoying living under the protection of His wings.

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