Sometimes our favorite articles are written by our own hand. God speaks to us mightily as we pray over what He wants us to say to you. Often, He moves deeply in our hearts and minds as we root out the words to share. Today is a perfect instance of that truth. Please join us as Sherry shares her favorite post.
Bittersweet by Sherry Rickard
“So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea…and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah for they were bitter…And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he [Moses] cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the water, the waters were made sweet.”
Exodus 15:22 -25 (KJV)
As I sat down to write the words for this post, I intended to write about memorials and markers. As I prayed about what the Lord would have me share, this passage of scripture came to my mind so clearly and the words poured out of me. I remember leaning on this passage so heavily when my husband was ill. Every doctor visit was bad news and disappointment. At home, it was so painful to watch my husband suffer the effects of his illness and to be so helpless. My husband was unable to work for a time period due to his illness so our comfortable life became very uncomfortable…or should I say very quickly unaffordable. Every aspect of our once carefree life became hard and heavy.
My husband in his most quiet moments, when it was just the two of us and, even when I wandered into a room in which he was alone, was the definition of peace. He didn’t rail at God and ask why. He wasn’t mad at his diagnosis. He was the definition of peace and contented joy, even in our darkest hour. He would often say that he had the golden ticket. If he was called Home, he got to start eternity in the presence of his Savior; and if his body was miraculously cured here on earth, he got to spend more time with us. He would always end with, “Either way, I’m a big winner!”
Me, on the other hand, I was a quiet Mara. I knew that God would be glorified in whatever happened and that He would sustain me, but I was growing quietly bitter the longer our journey took. It wasn’t something that was apparent, it was a quiet background noise to my everyday life.
Then, February 14, 2011, the Lord lovingly allowed me to realize that He was going to bring Bill Home. That was my most bitter moment of all. As I put my lips to my husband’s lips in the ICU at Duke Hospital and we kissed for the last time this side of eternity, God gently loosened my grasp on my husband and took him Home. At that moment, my heart wasn’t broken, it was ripped from my chest and there was complete emptiness in its place. How could my heart heal when it had been removed from my body? How could God ask this of me?
As each minute; hour; day; week; month; year and now years passed…God sent me experiences; one by glorious one that were filled with sweetness. Slowly, the pain (that never completely goes away)was insulated by sweet memories to the point that I could bear the journey God asked me to take. I am to the point now that I can bear the pain because of the sweetness that surrounds it; if that makes sense. I laugh more days than I cry. I can remember fun times spent with my husband and not feel the heaviness of him not being here.
Just as in the scripture above, the water was too bitter to drink and the Lord had to show Moses God’s hand-crafted tree. Once it was dipped into the water, the water was made sweet and the Israelites were able to drink it. In much the same way, God has taken my bitterness and He has dipped His beautiful hand into it and, in doing so, has made it turn to sweetness. And with this change, I am able to bear the journey and, as hard as it is to believe, there have been many points on the journey that were very sweet.
Dear Lord, Help me to remember that if Your hand is in it, it will be sweet. Help me to remember to lean in and feel Your presence in everything. Help me to surrender to You and to allow Your love to sustain me. Thank You for turning the bitter and unbearable into bearable sweetness. In Your Precious Son’s Name, Amen