By Rev. John Wilbur Chapman
The Waters of Marah
From the shores of the Red Sea the children of Israel took up the line of march, but the people were soon suffering from thirst. It was a dreary journey. They had been so long in bondage that they could hardly appreciate their freedom. Their slavery had made them very dependent, and this must have added to their burdens as they marched. Suddenly away in the distance they beheld evidences of water, and soon their lips were pressed down to the spring; but to their dismay, they found that the waters were bitter.
How like the experience of the average Christian all this is! Redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, led out of Egypt, passed through the Red Sea, and yet you have been at different times perfectly disconsolate! Some friend failed you, and the waters were bitter. The world seemed cruel and unsympathetic, and the waters were bitter. God called to Himself your mother, your children, your husband, your wife, your friend, and the waters were bitter. You call yourself a Christian, and you feel that you have passed through the Red Sea, entering into the death of Christ, and laying hold upon His power to keep you from sin; but when a trial came, the waters of life seem to you bitter as the waters of Marah.
When Moses realized the condition of the spring, he threw in the wood of a certain tree, and immediately the waters became sweet and pure as a mountain stream. Here is the secret of sweetening your life! Bring to bear the principles of the Cross upon every bitterness of your life. If your heart has been embittered by unkind words of another, stand near the Cross and hear Him say, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Are you distressed because some trial has overtaken you? Listen again while you hear Him groaning in agony in the pain of crucifixion, and what are your sorrows when compared with His? Do you rebel when you hear that perfect peace is only to be found when there is perfect submission? Hear Him say, "It is finished!" and remember that these words give us the climax of His absolute submission to the will of God. The difficulty with us in our Christian life has been that we have not let our wills run parallel with the will of God. No one can make a cross so long as he keeps one piece of wood just beside another, but the moment he puts the one across the other, the cross immediately appears. No one can have a cross in this world, in the sense of a burden, if his will is parallel with the will of God; but the moment it runs contrary to that will, then there is confusion and unrest.
Apply all the principles of the Cross of Christ to your springs of bitterness, and they will in every case be sweetened.