Do you ever feel like life just won’t give you a break? Does one more problem come beating at your door before you can even solve the others that are holding you hostage from living a happy, peaceful life? Do you ever wonder where God is, and why He is allowing you to go through all this? If you do, then you know exactly how the Israelites felt in Exodus 15:22-27.
God had just delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and promised to bring them to a better land, a better way of life. They are happy, excited, looking forward to this better life. However, just three days into their journey, they run into major obstacles. They came to the Wilderness of Shur , which in English means “Wilderness of Wall” because this was a wide, barren place made up of huge rock mountains. So, you could say that the Israelites literally ran into a giant wall soon after beginning their journey. How were they going to get to this Promised Land when all they can see is massive rock walls? How are they going to find their way out of this?
On top of that, they are running out of water, and there is no water to be found in this dry desert. They begin to be afraid, to worry and complain. Why is God allowing them to suffer like this? Didn’t He mean for them to make it to the Promised Land? And, then, to make matters even worse, they finally come upon a water hole only to find that the water is too bitter to drink. They can’t catch a break. One problem just stacks upon the other. They begin to think that maybe it would have been better just to have remained slaves back in Egypt. At least then they had water, and they didn’t have to suffer in this dusty, dry and unbearably hot desert.
However, watch what happens next. Then, as verse 27 reads, “Then, they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.” You can imagine how relieved the Israelites must have been when they arrived at this wonderful oasis in the middle of the desert. It was finally the break they were looking for, a place of relief, refreshment and replenishment. Hallelujah!
If you feel like the Israelites did, struggling to get one step ahead, then consider the encouraging truths that can be gleaned from this Exodus event.
1. You are never alone in your trials. God is always with you.
Even though the Israelites were suffering, God was with them. His presence was with them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God may not manifest His presence to you in the same way, but He is with you in your trials through a myriad of ways that can include the comfort and help of others as well as the guidance and strength of Bible verses and encouraging words from messages you hear on the radio, see on television, or read in an email or book.
Exodus 13:21 “The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”
Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
2. God knows where He is leading you.
The whole time the Israelites were suffering in the heat, thirsting for water, doubting God and complaining, guess what? God was leading them right here, to Elim, the whole time! God knew that they were human and what they needed, and God was leading them to this sweet oasis the whole time. Like the Israelites, you can’t see what is up ahead, but God can, and God knows where He is leading you. He knows what you need, and He is leading you to a place of relief, refreshment and replenishment.
Matthew 6:32 “…for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.”
3. God has prepared blessings up ahead for you.
Think about the 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees. Remember how many tribes made up the people of Israel? Twelve. So, each tribe was able to have their own well. Remember how many leaders there were in Israel? Seventy. So, each leader had a palm tree to gather, do roll call and encourage his tribe members.
What should this show us? God, evidently, prepared this oasis just for them. God knows what you need, and if you trust Him and stick with Him, He will lead you to a place of blessings that He has prepared just for you.
I Corinthian 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.”
4. Don’t give up on God, because He never gives up on you.
What if the Israelites had given up on God and went back to Egypt? What if they had decided to seek out their own path in the desert? They would have missed out on Elim. They would have missed out on the abundance of water and sweet refreshment, but more than that, they would have missed out on witnessing the glory of God. They would have missed out on seeing that God was with them the whole time. They would have missed out on seeing that God did truly love them and was caring for them all along. If you give up on God, you too may miss out on the blessings God has prepared for you, and you may miss witnessing God’s glory and love in your life.
5. God wants you to know that the best is yet to come!
While Elim was a sweet oasis, it was not the Promised Land, but a sampling of it. If the Israelites had stayed at Elim, they would have missed out on the even greater blessings found in the Promised Land. God may give us blessings in this life, but He doesn’t want us to set up camp here. He wants us to keep looking for that home in the heavens to live with Him eternally. The blessings of this life are nothing compared to the riches we will have with God.
II Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
6. Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.
Your life may feel like a dry, barren desert right now, but if you trust in God and go where He is leading you, He will bring you to your very own Elim where He will turn your stress into sweet desserts.