There’s something about living in the Ukraine that makes it harder to get out of bed in the morning. Before we came, I’d heard that life in Ukraine is tough on women, but it’s been more difficult than I’d expected.

This morning I woke up with a thought out of nowhere…no, it must have been from God. “When the people of Israel come to bitter water, Moses did something so they could drink it. What did he do?”

I lay there for a moment to ponder. Did he hit it with his stick? Or throw salt into it, or a branch? I didn’t have time to look it up, so while making breakfast and going to the market and canning cherries, I wondered. I thought of circumstances I don’t like, situations that make life here hard to swallow. What is God trying to say? Can He still turn bitter water into sweet?

Later in the day, I had the chance to look it up. Exodus 15:25 says, “Then he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters and the waters became sweet.”

So I cried out to the Lord and He showed me a tree – the Cross of Jesus.

I wrote down everything I don’t like here and thought, “How does the Cross apply to this? Can the Cross make my bitter waters sweet?”

  • Inconveniences: it wasn’t convenient for Christ to leave heaven and die for us.
  • Sporadic water: Jesus said, “I thirst.”
  • Carrying heavy bags home from the market: Jesus carried a cross.
  • Language barriers: Jesus left a position of power to become a helpless baby.
  • The dirt and smells: Jesus left a place of beauty for a sin-ruined world. He walked dusty roads and lived in cities without indoor plumbing.
  • Separation from family: Jesus was separated from the Father, so we might have fellowship.
  • Mundane housework: Jesus had no home.
  • Cold in winter: Jesus slept on the ground and probably was cold at times.
  • The way I take out my frustrations on those around me: Jesus died for my forgiveness.

We have been called to pick up our cross to follow Jesus, but, maybe I need to focus more on the cross of Christ instead of my own. Jesus suffered more than I ever will.

Jesus had a bitter cup to drink, too, but He endured the cross. He didn’t focus on His cross but on the reason He was going through it all – people, His love for people. Lord, give me a greater love for people.

I see two sides of the cross – there is His suffering and His love. He loves people in general, but He also loves ME, in particular.

Romans 8:32 reads, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Verses 35-39 say that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Not persecutions, not distress, not tribulation – nothing. Just because life is hard doesn’t mean God loves me less.

I read verse 37 again. Paul says, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” That sounds like sweet water to me – but how do I get past crawling to conquering?


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