A friend of mine and his son love to take off backpacking along the beautiful river they’ve got near their house. And they’ve learned some interesting “tricks of the trade,” I guess, to make sure they have clean water to drink without the weight of having to carry water with them all the time. They take iodine pills with them on their hikes. Apparently, they can collect some water from the river, dissolve iodine in it, and the water comes out clean. But then who would want to drink it? Iodine-flavored water? I don’t know. It’s not exactly the taste sensation that’s sweeping the nation, right? But that’s where the Kool-Aid comes in! Yeah, they put in some Kool-Aid and It actually makes that bitter water sweet. Or so they tell me!
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Sweetener.”
When God’s people were navigating the wilderness in the Old Testament, well, of course, Kool-Aid hadn’t been invented yet. But they did have a bitter water situation and a miracle that changed everything. The story is in Exodus 15, beginning with verse 22. And as you might guess, it’s our word for today from the Word of God.
Here’s what it says: “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…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 into the water, and the water became sweet.” That’s pretty amazing! God miraculously changes what was bitter into something sweet. You know, He’s still doing that miracle today – with bitter people, with bitter feelings, with bitter situations.
And that might be exactly what you need to be praying for right now. Actually, “crying out to the Lord for,” as it says Moses did. That’s not just a casual, trite little prayer. That’s a desperate cry to God for something so hard only He can do it. Right now, maybe you’re thinking of someone in your personal world who’s bitter. There’s resentment, and there’s sarcasm, and cynicism, there’s anger, maybe unforgiveness. The good news is that God is the world’s leading Heart Surgeon; He can change a heart in ways that no human could ever dream. But you need to be faithfully, and fervently, praying for God to do whatever it takes to change the heart of that bitter person. Especially if that bitter person is you.
The Bible makes it clear that you “miss the grace of God” when you let a “bitter root” grow in you. And your bitterness will, according to God, “cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15). But maybe your bitter pond isn’t a person; it’s a situation you’re in right now. You know, God has the power to sweeten a bitter situation too, not just a bitter person.
But God may have a “piece of wood” that He wants you to throw into the bitter waters. Maybe it’s that apology you need to give, a letter you need to write, that email you need to send, or some forgiving you need to do, a healing step that you know you need to take. As you pray about the bitter, ask God if there’s a step He wants you to take in bringing about a sweetening miracle.
Don’t underestimate the power of Almighty God to sweeten what you thought would always be bitter. If you’ll trust and you’ll obey; trust God to change things and obey His orders to make it happen. With a God as powerful and as loving as ours, no bitter pond can stay bitter. Not when God does His miracle of making bitter things sweet.