What do you do when life is dark and difficult? I remember calling out to God one night when things had got just too hard, and I really felt God speak, “Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). I couldn’t wait to see what would happen. Well the next day a postcard arrived from a woman I have never met, a friend of my husband’s family, who before and since has only ever sent us Christmas and Easter cards. Her name? Joy! It was a very nice encouraging Christian postcard, but I was hopping mad with God! Is this a joke? Is this all the help I get? At that time, when I was so desperate, I felt he was just messing with my head! So much expectation, and so much disappointment. Looking back now, I can see that it was meant for blessing, that God was underlining his promise to be with me, and that the difficulties would pass, but with such a negative attitude, I missed the point altogether.
As I read Exodus 17:1-7, I see something of a parallel. There had been this amazing time when God had done many mighty miracles to help the Israelites escape from slavery in Egypt. He’d promised to be with them, parted the sea for them, and destroyed their enemies. He had made undrinkable water good, and provided all the food they needed. Now, they were thirsty again, and in response to their cries, he caused enough water for the whole nation and all their flocks, to spring out of a rock. Amazing miracle yet again. But what did Moses call the place? Quarrelling and testing! After all they had experienced, they still came from a stance of doubt, not faith, with a negative attitude. They had no reason to doubt what God could do, but they doubted what God would do. Of course God came up with the goods, and all were satisfied. But the place was marked by their quarrelling and testing of God. They soured the blessing by a negative attitude.
Jesus promises to be with us. He has promised that we need never thirst spiritually, because “the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” He gives us ALL we need, and that’s fact; it does not depend on our attitude. How we approach our struggles may not affect the outcome, because God has promised to be with us whatever, but it will affect how much we enjoy the journey through. In difficult and dark days, we can trust, or we can doubt. That’s our choice.