Acts of Desperation
Throughout the Bible, you can read about people in desperate circumstances. They don’t have access to social security. They don’t have personal armed guards. They don’t have lawyers. When they fall into desperate circumstances, they have two options.
The first option is to attempts self-rescue. This might entail lying, hiding or even cheating. It may also require the person to convince others to participate in the same behavior. Alternately, the person may choose to run.
Abraham and Sarah lied to Pharoah and King Abimilech. They claimed to be brother and sister when they were actually husband and wife. Genesis 26 repeats the storyline but changes the actors to Isaac and Rebekah. They lied like this to protect the men from being killed and their wives taken away.
Jacob also attempts self-rescue when his brother Esau comes out to meet him. Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright years earlier, but Esau was very angry when it happened. So, Jacob’s servants tell him that Esau is coming with four hundred men. Jacob’s reaction is seen in Genesis 33: “1Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two maidservants. 2He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear.”
These examples prove that even the patriarchs were men who sometimes lacked faith in the face of desperate situations. They turned to culturally-accepted ways of surviving.
The second option in desperate circumstances is to follow the more desperate route of seeking God’s rescue. It doesn’t depend on cunning, skill, strength or superior numbers. Instead, it seeks out God’s mercy; desperately.
Some examples of this second option are people who were truly weak, alone, unwise, powerless and vulnerable. The widow of Zarepath is one:
7Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8Then 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.” 10So 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?” 11As 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.”
– 1 Kings 17
The story continues:
13Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.’”
This comes from a man who was just fed by the most unlikely of means; ravens (see 1 Kings 17:4-6).
Her total desperation was met by a man with a promise and it’s fulfillment:
15She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
She had no hope, but receives a miracle. They were going to “eat … and die”, now they will eat and live. They had run out of resources. Now their resources were limitless. She had no faith, but God was faithful.
Elijah in this passage was a shadow of the Savior to come.
“Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” – Psalm 146:3. Instead, put your trust in the immortal man, the King of all whose name means “Yahweh is salvation”. He is the promise fulfilled. He is hope realized. His kingdom has come. His “social security” is not dependent on filling out forms. All you need to do is … “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). The more desperate you are, the better, because HIS strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). Jesus’ desperate weakness resulted in making us children who are perfected through desperate circumstances by calling on His holy name.