by Brittney Chan
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
His name was SSgt Francis “Mac” McNamara and he died on June 30, 1943 as an American hero. Have you heard of him? Mac, along with ten other U.S. Air Force crew members, commanded the B-24 aircraft, Green Hornet, on its final WWII search-and-rescue mission in May of 1943. The pilot was flying at a low altitude of 800 feet when both engines on the left side of the plane expired and Green Hornet had no choice but to land harshly in the Pacific Ocean. Mac, 1st Lt. Louis Zamperini and 1st Lt. Russell Allen Philips were the only three survivors.
Day after grueling day, these officers floated along on two life rafts and rationed out their few remaining provisions. They quickly ran out of water and were left to rely on the rain, when it fell, to satisfy their thirsts. As you can imagine, each one of these men came to know unquenchable desires for proper nutrition, and eventually, Mac succumbed to the pangs of dehydration. After 33 long days of being lost at sea, life departed from his weak and fragile body as he took his place among the estimated 416,800 American casualties of the second World War.
Next week, we recognize the countless men and women who have dedicated at least a part of their lives to serve in America’s Armed Forces and defend our great nation. I think it’s rather fitting to do this as we enter the holiday season and purpose our hearts towards thankfulness and cheer. Most of us have never experienced the kind of physical hunger or thirst that these men did while they were lost at sea. But can you imagine how it felt to be stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for over 770 hours? To be surrounded by 63.8 million miles of water - the very thing you craved - and still be thirsty? It would be frustrating to be so close, but yet so far away from having exactly what you needed!
There’s a story similar to this in the Old Testament where the children of Israel were in the middle of the long journey from Egyptian slavery to receiving the Laws of God on Mt. Sinai. They were tired and worn from traveling and began to become discontented. Though they were free, they were not comfortable and this made them increasingly anxious.They got hungry and thirsty and couldn’t find any kind of substance to meet these needs. They started to gripe about how provision didn’t seem to accompany God’s promise of deliverance. They bickered and slandered Him in front of Moses. It would have been better to stay in Egypt!
It’s easy to scoff at these people’s unbelief, but how often do we find ourselves right there with them? Let us get the slightest bit weary in our well-doing and out comes our grumbling and complaining, too! It’s like we forget the kind of power He’s already shown by bringing us out of our sins.
Moses petitioned God and like always, He was faithful to supply the needs of His people. Exodus 17 tells us that Moses goes on to give this particular spot two names: Massah, meaning testing, and Meribah, meaning quarreling. When they found their faith being tested in a dry and barren land, the children of God did not choose to trust Him. And I feel like Moses selected these names to remind them of their wrongdoing. He was hopeful that as life carried on, if they were ever tempted to question God again: maybe - just maybe - they’d remember Massah and Meribah.
If you find yourself in a place of spiritual dehydration and you’re tempted to start thinking life was better in Egypt, remember Massah. Remember Meribah. When your faith is tested, you always have the option to trust God! You don’t have to reach for control and take the decisions of your life into your own hands. When you feel forgotten...when you question where He is...when your hope has faded away...when you wonder if God will provide the things your heart needs...remember Massah! Remember Meribah! The story of the Israelites doubt was given to us so that we wouldn’t have to make the same mistake!