And all the congregation of the children of Israel ... pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17:1.
By the command of God, the children of Israel were brought to Rephidim, a place destitute of water. He who was enshrouded in the pillar of cloud was leading them, and it was by His express command that they were encamped at this place. God knew of the lack of water at Rephidim, and He brought His people hither to test their faith; but how poorly they proved themselves to be a people whom He could trust!
Again and again He had manifested Himself to them. He had slain the firstborn of all the families in Egypt to accomplish their deliverance, and had brought them out of the land of their captivity with a high hand; He had fed them with angels’ food, and had covenanted to bring them into the Promised Land. But now, when difficulty rose before them, they broke into rebellion, distrusted God, and complained that Moses had brought them and their children out of Egypt only that they might die of thirst in the wilderness....
Many today think that when they begin their Christian life they will find freedom from all want and difficulty. But everyone who takes up his cross to follow Christ comes to a Rephidim in his experience. Life is not all made up of green pastures and cooling streams. Disappointment overtakes us, privations come, circumstances occur which bring us into difficult places. As we follow in the narrow way, doing our best, as we think, we find that grievous trials come to us.... Conscience stricken, we reason, if we had walked with God, we would never have suffered so....
But of old the Lord led His people to Rephidim, and He may choose to bring us there also, in order to test our faithfulness and loyalty to Him. In mercy to us, He does not always place us in the easiest places; for if He did, in our self-sufficiency we would forget that the Lord is our helper in time of necessity. But He longs to manifest Himself to us in our emergencies, and reveal the abundant supplies that are at our disposal, independent of our surroundings; and disappointment and trial are permitted to come upon us that we may realize our own helplessness, and learn to call upon the Lord for aid, as a child, when hungry and thirsty, calls upon its earthly father.
Our heavenly Father has the power of turning the flinty rock into life-giving and refreshing streams. We shall never know, until we are face to face with God, ... how many burdens He has borne for us, and how many burdens He would have been glad to bear if, with childlike faith, we had brought them to Him.—The Signs of the Times, September 10, 1896.
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