In the Bible, the wilderness is a place of refuge, but it is also a place of punishment.
Fire is the same way. In some passages, fire is a destructive force, something to be feared. In other texts, it is embraced as a refining, purifying fire.
Water was used to judge the world, but it is the means through which we identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is also used as a symbol for the Holy Spirit.
When God would come in the Hebrew Scriptures, it meant judgement for some and salvation for others.
Going into the presence of God was necessary for the Levites but deadly for everyone else.
Paul said in Romans 7 that the Law was to result in life, but it brought death.
It’s possible for gifts to be curses, but curses can also become gifts when we change our perspective. Destructive water or fire can mean salvation from a certain point of view. The wilderness can mean endless wandering, deadly vipers, and redundant meals to a group of stubborn people, but it can be a place of refuge for others.
Those people in your life that get on your nerves. That situation at work that’s got you down. That illness, that death, that loss, that separation. It’s awful. I’m right there with you.
But what lessons can we learn? What can we gain from it? Where is the silver lining?
How might, this too, turn out to be for our salvation?