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The Israelites rejoiced as the great pillar of cloud led them out of Egypt and away from their lives of slavery. They followed as it led them across the Red Sea and out into the wilderness. But after three days of walking in the desert, the Israelites had used up all the water they brought with them from Egypt, and they hadn’t found any more. The children were thirsty. The grown-ups were thirsty. The animals were thirsty. Everyone in the whole camp of Israel was very, very thirsty.

The cloud led them toward a place called Marah. Moses had been a shepherd in the wilderness for 40 years, and he knew the area well. Moses knew there was water at Marah, but he also knew it tasted so bad that the people wouldn’t be able to drink it. In fact, the word Marah meant “bitter.” Something bitter tastes very bad.

But the people didn’t know that, and as soon as they saw the water, they likely grew excited. “Water! Water! There’s water up ahead!” they may have shouted.

Some of the people ran forward to the water, but when they tasted it, their happiness turned to disappointment. Now the people felt even thirstier than they had before they saw the bitter water. They began to grumble and complain to Moses.

Moses knew that God had not left His people. He knew that God would take care of their needs. So Moses prayed to God and asked for help, and God told Moses what to do. He told Moses to find a piece of wood and throw the wood into the water. Moses did as God said, and the water turned sweet.

Once again the people rushed forward to the water. This time they were not disappointed. They drank all they wanted of the cool sweet water. Children, grown-ups, and animals drank all the water they wanted. God had worked a miracle to care for their needs, including their great need for water in the desert. They thanked and praised God for caring for them.

God cares for our needs, just as He did for the Israelites. God has given us clean water, good food, and air to breathe. He has given us families and friends to care for us. We may not always get everything we want, but God provides the things we need to be healthy and strong. Let’s thank God for taking care of our needs.