To a Saint at Marah: A Personal Letter

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Beloved in the Lord: And so you have come to Marah, and found the waters thereof bitter. You had learned already that the world was now but a wilderness-a dry and thirsty land, with a "mighty famine," and "no water." But it seemed as if the Lord was leading you beside some desert stream, and you longed more than ever to drink. As you followed the pillar of cloud, it glistened before you and, I trust, awakened gratitude to Him who "turneth the wilderness into a standing water." But now you taste its waters and find them bitter; you cannot drink of them, and you cry unto the Lord. Moses did so in Exodus 15, and allow me to remind you how the Lord answered his cry. "The LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet." He did not create some fresh thing for the occasion, meeting the new difficulty by some new interposition of miraculous power; but He directed the eye of Moses to something there already, on the banks of the very waters of Marah, which had the property of making the bitter sweet.
Now my beloved fellow pilgrim, what do you ask the Lord to do for you in this new trial? To create some new thing in the earth to meet your case? To bring back the darling object of which He has bereaved you, or remove at once in some other way the heavy trial that burdens your spirit and weighs you down? Is this His way? For "The LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm." Nah. 1:33The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3). No, I will ask the Lord for you, that if they be bitter waters to which He leads you (Exod. 13:2121And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: (Exodus 13:21)), He will "show" you the Blessed One whose presence in love and sympathy can sweeten every bitter cup and gild the bed of death with light. No new Savior, but "Him that is from the beginning"-the "same" today as He was yesterday, and will be forever. As no new thing came down from heaven, or grew up from earth, to sweeten Marah's waters for the poor thirsty wanderers, but a tree, there before the waters were tasted, which, in answer to his cry, the Lord showed unto Moses, so may the Holy Ghost, who is with you and in you, magnify His blessed office by taking of the things of the Lord Jesus and showing them to you (John 16:14, 1514He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. 15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:14‑15)), leading you to see and enjoy what He is to you; so that instead of Naomi becoming Marah (Ruth 1:2020And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. (Ruth 1:20)), Marah may become Naomi- that is, "pleasant."
Remember for your joy, "It is the Lord" who has led you beside the bitter waters-the same Shepherd who has led you, in the Person of your substitute, the Lord Jesus, clean through the Red Sea waters of death and judgment, now behind you forever—the same One who, when He sees fit, will lead you beside the still, sweet waters of Elim, an oasis in the desert, and precious foretaste of the promised rest. And if He guides you now to Marah, He has gone before you there, and planted a sweetening tree within easy reach. The world may have tasted something of the bitterness of the water, and given it a name; no name is given to the healing tree, for its value they have not discovered, but the Spirit of the Lord is with you, to show you not only "things to come," but also the present sufficiency and preciousness of the Lord Jesus, more than equal to your deepest need. To bring to your remembrance all things whatsoever He has said unto you, how He foretold you of Marah-"In the world ye shall have tribulation"- but is Himself ever near and available as the great soother of sorrow, saying, "That in Me ye might have peace." Do not then dear..., be looking for some new token or revelation from the Lord, but that He may by His Spirit "show" you more of Him who is "with you alway, even unto the end." Ever yours in Him