Sometimes the workplace can be a difficult environment to feel God’s presence. It can be busy, stressful, full of conflict, even bitter. It can make you not want to walk in the door some days!
But, what if we could we turn that bitterness into something sweet? What if we could change our hearts and attitudes about our work and the people around us? How can we keep the bitterness, stress and conflict from taking root in our hearts?
One week as I was in a particularly stressful and divisive time on one of my projects, I came across this passage in a bible study.
Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”
The Israelites had just been freed from slavery in Egypt. Just crossed the Red Sea and were now wandering in the desert. They were running out of supplies and were thirsty. Can you imagine the stress they must have felt to be in the middle of a desert with no water in sight? They didn’t know where they were going or how long the journey would be. They were beginning to question Moses and complain about their situation. Their once-grateful hearts were turning bitter from the stress of the journey.
Stressful situations have a way of making us bitter, resentful, angry, tired, frustrated. It’s easy to get focused on the issues and forget to be thankful for the blessings.
After three days in the desert, the Israelites found water, but it was too bitter to drink. More complaining and grumbling. So, God told Moses to throw a tree branch into the water which made the water sweet.
What ‘trees’ can we find to make our world sweeter, less bitter? How do we remember to stop grumbling and be thankful?
I decided to bring a little “tree” into my office, a reminder to let go of the bitter and focus on the sweet. I found this little “tree” and I’ve added “leaves” of scripture to sweeten my work environment. When I’m stressed, frustrated or bitter, I look over and get encouragement from the leaves. It reminds me to sweeten my attitude and not spread more bitter around me. It’s also become a conversation starter as people walk by or come sit at my desk for meetings. Another way to spread the sweetness of God’s love in the workplace.
We’re called to be the ‘trees’ in our environments – with our friends, at work, at home, at school. God wants us to be sweet, not grumbling and bitter. He wants us to influence others to turn the bitterness into sweet.
In what ways do you turn the bitter into sweet – at work, at home, at school? What reminders (“trees”) do you have to help you stay thankful instead of grumbling? Share some other ideas and let’s all bring a little more sweet into this sometimes bitter world!
(If you like my “tree”, I found it on Amazon, but it would be easy to make something similar if you’re crafty.)