1 Kings 17:
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
I like this story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not finished. Elijah goes on to tell her not to be afraid, and to make the cakes. God has told Elijah to tell the woman that the flour and oil will not dry up until the rain comes again.
It’s the story of a miracle. It’s the story of being abandoned, hopeless, penniless, and despairing. Can you feel for this mother who is going to feed her son “that we may eat it-and die”? She is probably disappointed and feels guilt for not being able to provide for her child. She has faced facts; there is no money, no provision and no one to help. Then, in walks Elijah.
Actually, even before Elijah comes, God has spoken to this woman. He said, “I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food”. This means that she has heard the voice of God promise to send someone to her (note: she was not an Israelite. She was outside the fold of God). She will have one last opportunity to relay the desperation of her circumstance to a fellow human being.
Isn’t it strange that she doesn’t ask Elijah for help? She doesn’t ask for a dime? She just lays out the situation with the bluntness of someone who has accepted their destiny. But, she heard from God. This could have been a response to the desperate prayers of a broken widow with no means of providing for her family. She is telling Elijah, “you are too late”.
Our God is the God of last minute dramatic rescues. Think of the Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea. The Israelites complain that they were brought there to die. Abraham’s son is about to be sacrificed under the raised hand of Abraham himself. In that final dropping of the knife, God stays the execution and provides another animal for sacrifice.
This sucks. I hate last minute dramatic rescues. Why can’t God just rescue us way before we are sifted through lots of crap? Seriously. It’s stressful. Can’t He just lay out the plan so we can relax as it’s worked out in front of us? I don’t like the last minute rescues. And another thing. Lots of people of faith aren’t rescued at all. The miracle never comes. This sucks.
I still like the story, though. As I have struggled for the past couple of years, I have felt similar (but maybe a different depth) of hopelessness and despair that the woman felt. I want a God who will rescue me. I want a God who can say to the wind, “be still” and the whole world is stopped. I want a God who says to me in the deadness of my faith, “talitha koum” and I arise. I want a God who takes a little bread and fish and feeds, and feeds and feeds. By the way, we do have this God.
His name is Jesus. He is the bread of life that keeps on feeding us. He is the intercessor who has been praying for you all along. He does this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week before the Father. Your God is your advocate.
The world may reject you, abandon you and leave you lying on the side of a road. Some of them might even be “Christians”. The Devil actively seeks to destroy people and marriages and families. The economy has devastated families and their hopes for a secure future (or even, a secure present). It seems that no one is looking out for anyone but themselves.
The above last statement is a lie. Jesus Christ is the King of Heaven and Earth. He is the King forever. He is not a painting of a religious hippy from the first century, instead, He is the Almighty, Reigning King and Lord of ALL! And, we are His Children, His brothers and sisters. Do you think a big brother is going to let the world beat his little brothers and sisters without retribution? Do you think the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills won’t be able to provide for your physical needs? If I’m honest, sometimes I do. Sometimes, I believe God has rejected me. This then, is the fight. This is the battle. The Lord has promised good to me. The miracle of Easter was the miracle of resurrecting us through the cross. He has already done it. Jesus has had victory over the WORLD!