“So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; 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: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”Exodus 15:22–24
The story is told of a husband and wife who didn’t really love each other. The man was overbearing and downright mean sometimes. Early on in their marriage, he prepared a list of rules for his wife. He demanded she adhere to the list strictly each day. Some of the rules he established for his wife was her “wake-up” time each morning, what he wanted for breakfast, and details of how the house was to look when he got home each night. After many years of this, the husband died. Over time the woman fell in love with another man, but feared he would treat her the same way. This man was different; he actually loved her and was willing to do anything for her. Soon they were married. This man did everything he could to please his wife. Then one day as the wife was cleaning house, she found tucked away in a drawer the list of rules her first husband had given her. As she reflected on the list, it dawned on her that even though her present husband hadn’t given her any kind of list, she was doing everything her first husband’s list required anyway. She realized she was so devoted to this man that her deepest desire was to please him out of love, not obligation.
The wife’s second husband had achieved more through love and patience than the first husband had through demand. Patience had won her over and caused her to obey everything her first husband had wanted her to do, but with joy rather than heartache.
So often we see a lack of patience in our world. People are so busy to go places, meet people, accomplish things that they fail to yield to others and practice patience. Just look at the people around you next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic on the freeway. There is little patience in people made to wait!
Yet God desires that we would practice patience and longsuffering to those around us. Notice God’s example of longsuffering in our verses today. The people of Israel were embarking on a journey from slavery to a land of their own, a land God had promised them. Yes, there were hardships on the journey as there are with any journey, yet the people failed to remember God’s promise.
If you read the context of Exodus 15, the Israelites had just witnessed God’s miracle at the Red Sea. That miracle was still fresh in their minds yet they murmured and complained against God. The murmuring of the Israelites wasn’t a one-time thing; they continued to murmur against God and Moses throughout their journey to the Promised Land. Yet God showed much longsuffering by continuing to bless and guide them throughout their journey.
Too often we fail to practice patience in our lives. As James 1:3 says, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” Those trying times, even the small daily trials, will develop patience in your life if you submit to God’s working. Just as God displayed patience with the children of Israel, He desires you to display patience with those around you.
How often do you display patience to those around you? It’s not easy to yield to others and allow them the “right of way” in life, yet God desires that you humble yourself and practice patience with others. The next time someone cuts you off, takes your favorite parking spot, or treats your child unfairly, practice patience. Rather than becoming upset or angry at others today, submit to God’s will and allow Him to develop patience in you. (By Paul Chappell)