I have been thinking this week about how quickly things can change! All around us, the news reports seem to change every day, making it difficult to plan ahead. But ‘change’ is not a new thing, and while reading Exodus recently, I was reminded that the people of Israel knew all about living moment by moment.
In Exodus 15, they had seen with their own eyes how God had released them from captivity in Egypt, but now the Egyptian army was closing in on them. They had been in captivity for 430 years. God had set them free, and they were celebrating this incredible victory. Yet just 3 days later, tired, drained and thirsty, they started complaining against Moses. They soon found water, but as they rushed toward it, they were disappointed to discover it was bitter and undrinkable.And so once again they began to complain.
How quickly things had changed for them! They had gone from rejoicing to murmuring in just 3 days. Reading this again recently has caused me to ask: ‘Is there anything we can learn from this story?’
I believe there is so much we can learn, but it reminds me especially that in a time of crisis, it is incredibly important to stay close to God.
In verse 25 of Exodus 15, it says that when the people of Israel got to the bitter waters of Marah, God tested them. As always, God’s plan didn’t end when He had delivered them from Egypt. He wanted the people to enter into a covenant relationship with Him and to learn to trust Him implicitly. Over the years, I have learned that God is not just a God of one-off miracles, but He is a relational God who wants us to experience His presence and blessings daily.
This is demonstrated in Exodus 19:4-6 where God says ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians… and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation.’
Often, God’s way of conforming us to the image of His Son is a path that includes reshaping, moulding, training, and developing our character. And often all of those things happen through trials and crises. I am reminded again of James 1:2-4, where it says: ‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.’
Whatever time of testing you’re experiencing right now, you can be assured that it is under God’s sovereign control, just as it was for the Israelites at the water of Marah. Never forget that ‘all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose’ (Rom. 8:28).
And so as we stand at this moment in time, facing many changes, let’s not focus on the trial itself but instead draw close to God and allow Him to turn your crisis into a testimony.