Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more! Louisa M. R. Stead
Last week I went through the process of having my first full body radioactive scan since having my cancerous thyroid removed a year and a half ago. As with any test procedure looking for signs of the dreaded “c” it can be stressful. Any accompanying fear and anxiety are acerbated by the infernal, seemingly interminable wait for the results.
It’s been said that war is hell and doubtless waiting for test results is at the very least akin to purgatory. Such waiting could be likened walking a gauntlet of faith with fires of doubt, fueled by rampant negative scenarios, licking at your heels.
This time around, in the midst of my wrestlings of soul the Lord brought to mind the title of the old hymn “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” As only God can do those simple words ministered faith to me and restored my peace and sanity.
Life’s journeys have a way of bringing all of us to an occasional bitter pool. Invariably we stumble upon bitter experiences when we least expect it and they can have a way rocking us and our faith to our very core. Disease, major disappointments and losses have that effect upon us. At a time when we thirst for sweet water to refresh our weary souls, it seems like all we have to draw from is bitter.
Ironically that is exactly what happened to the Israelites immediately after their miraculous deliverance from the Egyptians when they passed through the Red Sea on dry ground. Three days of wandering in the desert brought them to the bitter waters of Marah. Famished by thirst they all grumbled “What are we to drink?” (Exodus 15:23)
But God allowed this to teach them and us a foundational truth about dealing with the bitter experiences of life. “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 sweet.” (Exodus 15:25) That “piece of wood” is an Old Testament foreshadowing of the Messiah who was to come and the wooden cross that he would bear. The cross, representing Christ’s great covenant sacrifice for sin and our salvation, would have the power to heal and make every bitter thing sweet.
Sometimes when we are standing at a bitter pool and crying out to God as Moses did, it seems like that piece of wood and its transforming results are nowhere to be found. In fact no matter how diligently we ask and seek and knock, the bread we so desperately want is still a rock and the fish still feels like a scaly snake. But Jesus assures us that the heavenly Father will give us what we long for if we persist. And indeed, when we hold a stone long enough, it will eventually turn into bread, and that scary squirmy snake will turn out to really be a fish. (Matthew 7:7-11)
From personal experience I’ve found that to be true. Yesterday after five days of holding a snake by faith it became a fish and I finally got my test results back with a clean bill of health. All praise and glory to God!
One of the great mysteries of God is the way in which He uses the bitter experiences of life to bring sweetness to our soul. And it is likewise awe inspiring to observe how God can take something born of tragedy and nurture it into becoming a life sustaining blessing.