Words by Tara Joi C. S.
“People don’t like us,” my husband concluded.
While I knew this not to be true, I could not give him answers as to why our lives had been difficult. I turned to the window, and let the tears flow.
It felt as though we were living in a desert.
Desiring some thoughtful time before God, I went to my quiet space and opened my Bible. I read about the Israelites in the book of Exodus. While in the Desert of Shur, they journeyed three days without water; when they finally found water, they discovered it was too bitter to drink. The Israelites did not ask for water, instead, they grumbled against Moses and asked what they were to drink. Some even said that it would have been better if they had stayed in slavery in Egypt.
Moses cried out to God and God showed him the answer. God healed the water to make it drinkable, teaching Moses how it can be done. (It is possible that the wood that God showed Moses to toss into the water was from a moringa tree. Today the moringa tree, bark, and seeds are used for healing and cleaning water to make it drinkable).
What if the people asked sooner, without grumbling, or complaining? I remembered the verse in James 4:2 that speaks of not having because of not asking. God tells the Israelites in Exodus 15:26, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God, and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.”
Jehovah-Rapha is a name for God that reveals an aspect of His character. He is the God who heals.
Complaining and grumbling come from a spirit of bitterness. A bitter heart is the opposite of a thankful heart.
Jehovah-Rapha healed the water so that it became useful and sweet, and he wanted to heal the Israelites’ bitter hearts as well.
It turns out that grumbling and complaining have destructive effects on the body. Complaining elevates cortisol levels (stress hormone), and increases the risk of depression, sleep issues, high blood pressure, heart disease, and digestive issues.
Researchers also believe complaining shrinks the hippocampus—an area of the brain used for critical thinking, problem-solving, and intelligent thought.
Like the Israelites wandering in the desert, my husband and I had our own spell of isolation and opportunities that dried up or withered before bearing fruit. We were told we didn’t fit in; there were many, many unsuccessful job applications, we created things that didn’t sell; our debt became a mountain; we suffered the successive deaths of loved ones.
All this left us feeling unwanted, unloved, unsuccessful, and rejected. It was easy to see only the desert sand after a while and feel alone in it. It was easy to complain at our lot.
But taking this first lesson of the Israelites to heart, I asked God to remove bitterness from me. I made the decision to simply ask when I have a need and choose to trust God with His answer. I choose to not give up and to focus on who He is rather than our circumstances. He revealed Himself to the Israelites through their difficulty, and so I am choosing to seek Him and trust Him first.
That moment alone with my Bible did not mark some dramatic change, but I know there is a change in me. I know that He is doing a new thing; it started inside my heart and mind and has altered the way I see things. I am hopeful; I am waiting for healing; I am loved and not alone. I am choosing to trust Him in the desert. Stay tuned.