A short reading and prayer for today
When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”). Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.
Exodus 15:23-24 NLT
Pressure. Every leader knows what it is to face discontented people. I hasten to add that I haven’t faced a huge number, but then I’ve never taken tens of thousands of people on a walk through a desert! It’s easy to understand why they were complaining. Life in a desert is hard enough work even when there is a good supply of water, so arriving at an oasis and finding its water to be too bitter to drink must have been a shattering experience for everyone. So the question is, what is Moses the great leader going to do about it? He could have done many things. He could have apologised or tried to put a positive gloss on the experience by saying that everything had gone all right until now, or he could have joined the people in complaining. The choice he made was a good one. He prayed.
When a crisis breaks, it is very easy to get sucked into the whirlpool of confusion that it creates. We are tempted to examine the situation in ever greater detail, pulling in all the experts to explore solutions. Those are not bad things to do, but they shouldn’t be the priority. Moses got it right and came before God in prayer. In doing so, God directed him to do something that he would never have thought of. He simply needed to throw a piece of wood into the water and it became sweet. There at Marah God gave the people a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He promised them that if they obeyed his commands then he would ensure that they didn’t suffer the diseases which he sent to the Egyptians. He promised that he would be their healer.
We all face crises. They are often unexpected and always unwelcome. This means that we need to know how to face them, and here Moses learnt that the best way was to bring them to God. As we lift up our dilemmas to God, we need to be ready to do whatever he tells us to do, even if it is bizarrely different from anything that we have done before.
How good are you at handling crises, and how do you think you could improve?
Loving Father, thank you that you are with us even in the midst of the most challenging of problems. Amen