Read the story in Exodus 15:22-27
What Does It Mean in My Life?
The Lord does not leave us to die of thirst, He leads us to the waters of Marah. Finally, after three days, the children of Israel are led to some water. They plunge in and start drinking... and what is their reaction? "Its horrible! I can’t drink this!" They would not drink the water and said it was too bitter to drink (the Hebrew word for bitter is Marah).
What does this mean? Why is the water too bitter to drink? Water stands for the truth. The Lord does give us truth, but at times the truth seems bitter. Why? As we know, truth teaches us about things we have to change in ourselves. In order to change for the better the truth will show us things we have to do that we don’t want to do, such as giving up things we enjoy doing (even if they are hurting us or others). The bitter waters portray a bitter recognition of self — of what we are like and the hurt we have caused. That is why truth is sometimes referred to as a mirror.
When the people murmured against Moses about the bitter water did the Lord lead them away? Did He give them different water? Does the Lord give us easier truths? The Lord didn't lead them to different water, as if He were saying, "Oh, I am sorry, you want a different set of commandments, that is fine. Try these easier ones." Instead, the Lord showed Moses a tree and instructed him to throw it in the water. When Moses did this the water was made sweet.
Why would a tree make the water sweet? A tree symbolizes goodness. To have the Lord present Moses with a tree shows how the Lord can instill good into the truth so that it is made pleasant to us. This means that the Lord shows us the reason why these truths are useful and leading us to something better. That is the good. To be shown a tree is to ask, "What is good about this particular truth?" or "What would be the positive outcome of actually living this truth?"
Excerpted from Journey to Freedom spiritual growth program — Week 4, Day 3