December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah. So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’ Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test.”—Exodus 15:22–25 (NIV)
If there’s one thing I’ve had to learn the hard way as a parent, it’s patience. I’ve had to learn to be patient when my kids make the same poor choices over and over. So, why be patient? Because they’re my kids and I love them. No matter how many times they complain when I tell them to go to bed, fold clothes, or take the dog out, I can’t simply give up on them or kick them to the curb. Instead, I endure, redirect, teach, explain, and when necessary give consequences. I’m there to give them what they need to thrive because I love them and desire the very best for them.
Today’s passage includes a few words you’ve already read and will read again in the Book of Exodus: “the people grumbled.” The NLT says “the people complained and turned against Moses.” Essentially, like young children, the Israelites constantly found themselves in disobedience, faithlessness, and rebellion with a sense of entitlement and lack of humility.
In this case, they grumbled because of the water. Had they so quickly forgotten what the Lord had done at the Red Sea? The miracles in Egypt? The pillar of smoke and cloud of fire? No. But here’s the thing: People get tunnel vision when facing hardships, discomfort, inconvenience, or unmet expectations. They lose perspective. But if I (a wretched, imperfect sinner) am able to love my kids and be patient with them to give them what they need and guide them, then can you imagine the faithfulness, compassion, patience, endurance, and love of God (the perfect, holy, and good Father) over His children?
Exodus 15:25 (NIV) says, “Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.” God gave them what they needed and then guided them, taught them, and promised them He’d always provide for them as they walk in obedience (v. 26).
The same God who was faithful and provided for faithless and forgetful people is the same God who sent His Son to make a way for us to have a right relationship with Him and who has sent us the Holy Spirit to live in us, to teach us all things (John 14:26), and to guide us into all the truth (John 16:13).
Even as we fall into the same struggles, make the same bad choices, lose sight of His promises and truth, and act faithlessly, He is faithful. We may experience consequences and we may be tested, but He will always provide, redeem all things, and use all things for our good and His glory.
And He calls us to do the same for others! He’s given us an example on how to treat our kids, our spouse, our friends, classmates, teachers, leaders, coworkers, those who are difficult, those with whom we disagree, and those who hate us. May we always practice patience and faithfulness with the people around us.
Pause: What does this passage teach us about the faithfulness of God? What example does the Lord set for us in regards to how we should treat one another?
Practice: Thank the Lord today for His faithfulness. List all the ways He’s been patient with you, provided for you, and guided you into truth.
Pray: Lord, I thank You for Your faithfulness. I thank You for being a good, loving, perfect Father. You are wonderful, worthy, and holy! Thank You for being Abba! I pray for Your continued hand of protection, provision, and guidance over everything I say, think, and do. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.