Yahweh Rophe- Part two. The Lord who heals. The Lord who turns bitter to sweet.
Rophe (one of a few different spellings) is a layered name of God. In the encounter in Marah, the Sinai Peninsula region, we see God saying- I am the God who heals. In this instance, He healed the waters. As an expression of His love and care, the bitter-undrinkable waters turned sweet and life-giving.
Initially, after crossing through the Red Sea, I imagine the Israelites were renewed as they encountered the tropical reef; turquoise seas, ample seafood and a refreshing salt-kissed breeze. Perhaps hopes were high and enthusiasm was strong. My tent would have been pitched and the barbecue fire lit.
Today, resorts dot the Red Sea's coastline, frequented by diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.
Now, fast forward three days after a long hot desert stroll and you hit Marah. You can see why the folks were upset.
The poor town’s name even means “bitter”. I don't see visiting here on my bucket list, my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth just scrolling through its images. The desert does have its own beauty, but being a Michigander, the lack of water would seriously test my staying power.
Water is necessary to sustain life. As there are no coincidences with God, we see Him making a very big point in Marah. In a desert place, a dry place, in a brackish-bitter place.
Using water imagery to explain who God is to us is consistent throughout all the scriptures. It paints a picture, as well as, makes clear to humanity that He is the life-sustaining answer to our body, souls and spirits.
Thirsty Crabby Israelites
Throughout scripture, the word Rophe denotes healing and so much more.
It also speaks of overcoming infertility, emotional healing, healing of lands and people groups, doctoring, preparing a body for eternal rest and the cause-and-effect-obedience that can ward off disease.
Each name of God is an invitation to know how much God loves. Everyone needs a healer. Whether physical, emotional, or spiritual- no one is exempt. No one.
We don’t meet God as a HEALER until we have our first test of healing. (Thanks for this one, Lance Wallnau!)
Even in this paradox there is beauty. In our surrender, in our weakness-He is strong. In our need, Love walks in to meet us in a whole new way.
And to the question posed last week- What if God doesn't heal as we desire?
I grappled with this issue in Book One. Many would consider those with special needs to be in need of healing because their bodies or brains don't fit the "typical" picture. And often those in this community have pain and tremendous obstacles to overcome just to get through the day. So, if Rophe doesn't show up to change their bodies into "typical" ones, does this mean He never came at all? Did Love not walk in and meet them in a whole new way?
The conclusion I came to? I'm not God. I don't assign an individuals purpose and I'm certainly not in charge of their destiny. I'm not glorified in them, God is, and...just because a limb may stay twisted or a chromosome remains askew, it doesn't mean Rophe hasn't turned up. That maybe in the hard look for His hand, we haven't noticed Him showing His heart.
I've lost young friends to cancer. I've had friends whose babies have died in their arms. Others have lost their battle with drugs and mental illness or their marriages have fallen apart. I've fasted, proclaimed, joined my Jesus-crazy-full-of-the-Holy Spirit brothers and sisters in storming the gates and the courtrooms of Heaven and still watched people die or remain in pain.
I don't have the answer to the whys. In situations when healing doesn’t come as I had hoped, I’m not sure there are answers that could ever satisfy on this side of forever. But I believe God is love. He is who He says He is regardless if life fits my narrative and timeline. He is the healer and in time, He will turn all the bitter things sweet.