When Sorrows Like Sea Billows Roll

“And the people of Israel came into the wilderness of Zin… And Miriam died there and was buried. Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses… and quarreled and said, ‘Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought [us] into this wilderness, to this evil place, that we should die here?..’ The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Take the staff, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.’ Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?’ And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly… And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them’… And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force [and] refused to give Israel passage… And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, ‘Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah…’ And Aaron died there on the top of the mountain.” Numbers 20:1-5,7-8,10-12,20-21,23-24,28

Being a leader is lonely and difficult enough, but to trek through arid wilderness, and have to deal with incessant grumbling, opposition, criticism from those you lead, increases the stress. Add on grief at losing first one sibling, then the other, who, though not always supportive, had been at your side. Plus the take-my-breath-away punishment from your best friend, God, — not to enter the promised land, your life’s purpose and calling–  for momentary unbridled anger that exalted self over Him, and that you would forever regret. Then mean, unreasonable suspicion and rejection by relatives to pass through their land. Could there be any more sorrow for Moses? Surely he was choking at this point, yet he did not give up, did not get caught up in blame and complain. He knew enough to look up at the One Who had called him and was good and just and would not fail. He continued to obey, to plod along, to do the next thing God commanded. His God was enough, it was well with his soul.

Waves w foam in light, vertical

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”  ~Horatio Spafford (1873)

When circumstances turn sour or destructive and overwhelm, when I am accosted by threats or false accusations, or buffeted by loss of loved ones or relationships or dreams, how do I respond? In sorrow upon sorrow, and inexplicable hardship, God is worth my follow and praise.

Good Father, my Fortress, whatever comes, may I sing of Your strength and steadfast love. May I praise You, my Refuge, in all distress. Thank You for making all well with my soul. (Psalm 59:16-17; Romans 5:1)

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