Tremble, earth before the Lord

Before the God of Jacob, Who turned the rock into a pool of water,

The flint into a fountain of water. Psalm 114:17—18

Does it ever seem that God delivered you out of the frying pan and into the fire? The Israelites often felt this way in their exodus from Egypt. After camping at Elim, a place with 12 springs and seventy date palms, the Israelites were led into the wilderness without much food. There they grumbled, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt when we sat by the pots of meal, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly of hunger.” They thought, “At least we would have died fat and happy.”

Despite their whiny attitude and lack of faith, God sent them manna. Soon, however, they are in the wilderness again—this time without water. They again grumbled against Moses, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” God instructs Moses to strike the flint with his staff. Water springs forth and all the people and their animals drink.

In the past, I have always felt outrage at the Israelite’s failure to trust God. After the miracles in Egypt, the parting of the sea, and the manna, how could they not trust God? Not only did they not trust God’s deliverance, but they doubted His good intentions. They did not trust His love. How dare they grumble and doubt His goodness!

I am, I have discovered, an Israelite. I have survived (thus far) prostate cancer. Teckla has survived breast cancer and the removal of her gall bladder. Together we are (thus far) surviving the death of Peter, our oldest son.  God has brought us through much, Teckla is now experiencing progressive dementia. Has God saved Teckla from cancer just so she could go through the long death of dementia? Has God given us grace to endure the agony of losing a child, just so we can wander in the bewilderment of dementia?

I don’t know. However, the story of God bringing water from the flint became central to how Israel understood God. In Psalm 114:18 the God of Jacob is identified as the one “who turned the rock to a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of water.”

I know this: God can bring life from hard things. Cancer was hard, dementia harder. But I serve a God who can bring life and blessing from the hardest things. Nothing in my life has been as hard as facing Teckla’s dementia. It is flint, and it is hard to believe more than my tears will flow from it. I want to tremble not before her dementia but before the Lord, the God of Jacob.

Unlike the Israelites, I am convinced of God’s kind intentions and limitless love. For those who have put their faith in Jesus, God will crack open death itself—the hardest rock we face—and bring forth resurrection, joy, and life. I trust in a God who can bring life from flint, whether that be healing, enduring, or death. God will make the flint a fountain.

About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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