Tuesday 24th March
One relationship that has always fascinated me is that of Elijah, the widow and her son. Three ordinary people – just like us. But through them God did extraordinary things. Just as he uses us to do extraordinary things. Before we look a bit closer at the time Elijah spent with the widow and how essential this time was in preparing him for everything God was going to do in and through him later, we need to go back to the Kerith Ravine. There we see Elijah on a roll, having boldly confronted Ahab and got way unharmed, and now cared for by God. But then the brook dries up and Elijah has to face the consequences of his own prophecy.
There are times in life when have to face the consequences of our actions or inactions, and the hurt and disappointment. Times when our brook dries up. Elijah must have felt this disappointment keenly. But look again at how he reacted. He waited with the rest of the people of Israel under God’s judgment. He didn’t complain. He didn’t question. He waited on the Lord trusting God to lead him onto the next step.
We go through many changes in life. Paul writing to the Philippians says I know what it is to be in need and I know what it means to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in every situation. I can do anything through him who gives me strength.
That is what Elijah learned. That is what we need to learn. When our brook dries up we need to be able to raise our hands in praise. Mike and myself experienced some very dark days when we struggled and failed to conceive a child. Through all the heartbreak I knew that I had to still lift my hands in praise. When we do that we honour God. Trust him – he will show you the next step.
The Lord told Elijah to go to Zarapheth of Sidon where a widow would look after him. Seeing a woman gathering sticks he took a step of faith – asking for water and some bread. R T Kendall says that faith is sometimes spelt r-i-s-k. It means to accept or expose ourselves to possible harm or loss.
If we are going to do extraordinary things for God then we will have to go outside our comfort zone. What do you want? Do you long to see God working in powerful and extraordinary ways. Then you will have to move out of your comfort zone. Every person that God has used has had to go out of their comfort zone. Faith is about taking risks for God. I believe that in these days we are all being given a clear invitation from God to go with him, move out of our comfort zone and see amazing things happen through him. The time is ripe. The time is now. We’ve got to seize this moment with both hands.
But then disaster strikes. The widow’s son dies. And she blames Elijah. She has come to depend on him. He has let her down. It’s not an easy time for Elijah. He is misunderstood. He is unfairly blamed. Gerald Coates has said that the curse of our generation is the desire to be understood. What do you do when you feel you are misunderstood? Elijah focussed on the child. He prayed over the child and the boy’s life returned. And Elijah was vindicated but his question to God went unanswered. If Elijah had waited for an answer he never would have prayed. Many people say I will believe once I have the answers to my questions – when you can tell me if God is a God of love why there is so much suffering in the world. We will never know the answer to that question – not this side of heaven. So will you risk losing your soul waiting for an answer or will you pray God be merciful to me a sinner without waiting for that answer. Answered prayer is better – as Elijah, the widow and the boy learned.
We will always face being misunderstood. True Elijah was vindicated but for many of us that will only be in heaven. Jesus was never universally vindicated on earth. But one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord. Every person will say – now I know. Until that final day Jesus remains the most misunderstood person who lived. And it is this Jesus who we follow.
Reflection by Sue Fulford