In eager anticipation of my copy of Miriam, I thought I would look up mention of her in the Bible to look for story clues. There are only a few mentions of her, by name, and two of them stuck out to me. At the beginning of the Israelites journey, just after the safe crossing of the Red Sea, Miriam leads the other women in worship with a song and dance.
Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. Ex 15:21
Can you imagine the sense of relief the people felt at this point? A short time ago, the Israelites were huddled in terror with the might of the Egyptian army on one side and the cold depths of a sea on the other. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, death was waiting to claim them.
Then, the winds come and part the sea leaving a wide path for them to escape. They would climb over rocks and dodge slimy bits of debris, while the sound of chariots and the cries of soldiers chased them. But the distant shore beckoned, promising safety and freedom. Then as the last person left the seabed, there came the terrifying roar as the water reclaimed its home taking the bulk of the Egyptian army with it.
I don’t think relief is a strong enough word. No wonder Miriam and the others danced and sang. I imagine that the entire encampment sang along. Thousands upon thousands of people worshiping God. That scene is a far cry from the other reference to Miriam by name that stood out to me:
Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?’ They asked. ‘Hasn’t he also spoken through us?’ Num. 12:1-2
How did Miriam the sweet girl we met in The Pharaoh’s Daughter go from such deep and heartfelt worship to a woman who gave voice to jealousy? The Lord plagued her with leprosy for a week as punishment for speaking against her brother, God’s chosen mouthpiece. She was restored only through the prayers of her brothers.
I think many of us go through similar stages. I know that I have lost the first blush of the love I held for my Lord. I worship easily enough when He has brought me through a great trial, but then when things become more comfortable, my eyes turn instead to other things. With the fickleness of my heart, I am so thankful he doesn’t punish with leprosy anymore or I would be in trouble!
So now I wait even more eagerly for Miriam. Perhaps in reading her story, I can figure out how to fix my own.