Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The Lord also will be a refuge and a high tower for the oppressed, a refuge and a stronghold in times of trouble (high cost, destitution, and desperation).”
Psalm 9: 9
“I will be with (her)! I will not forsake (her)!”
“Wonderful Presence – unseen, but so nigh:
Wonderful fact – that He companies with us-
Faithful, unchanging, and standing nearby.”
J. Danson Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“After these things, the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. And she (the widow of Zarephath) said to Elijah, ‘What have you against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?’ (Elijah) said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed and laid him upon his own bed. And Elijah cried to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord my God, have You brought further calamity upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?’ And he (Elijah) stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord and said ‘O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s soul come back into him.’ And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the lower part of the house and gave him to his mother: and Elijah said, ‘See, your son is alive.’ And the woman said to Elijah, ‘By this I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.’”
1 Kings 17: 17-24
“When The Miracle You Want Isn’t The Miracle You Need!”
“Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.”
Augustine of Hippo
Is there something in my life, call it a miracle, that I need to happen?
Have I ever found that the “miracle” I thought I wanted was not what God knew I needed?
“A miracle is not the breaking of the laws of the fallen world, it is the re-establishment of the laws of the kingdom.”
“If there is a Creator God, there is nothing illogical at all about the possibility of miracles. After all, if He created everything out of nothing, it would hardly be a problem for Him to rearrange parts of it as and when He wishes.”
The Reason For God
I chose today to share the entire passage found in 1 Kings 17: 17-24, eight verses in total. It is always wise, I have found, to read the Bible in context and so it has been as we have spent several weeks looking at the life of Elijah, both at the Brook Cherith and then with a foreign widow in the city of Zarephath in the country ruled by none other than Queen Jezebel’s father.
If we look closely at 1 Kings 17: 20, there is a phrase Elijah uses in speaking with God and it is this, “with whom I sojourn.” The word “sojourn” is what caught my eye and immediately I checked out the Hebrew dictionary where I found that this word, as used in this text, means to abide -- to lodge. These words give us an immense sense of what Elijah was telling God. He came to the house in Zarephath as a stranger but by the time a crisis hit the family unit, Elijah felt as though he was a critical part of this home. This is why the story needs to be looked at in the context of all that happened in Zarephath.
If you will recall, when we first met the widow, she was outside the city gathering sticks so she could make the very last meal she and her son would eat. As she informed Elijah when he asked her for some food, “Not only don’t we have enough food for you, we don’t even have enough for ourselves.” This is how desperate things were.
The fact is that when Elijah arrived at the widow’s door, he seemed like a burden too big to bare. He was another mouth-to-feed in a home where poverty was seemingly in control.
What the widow wanted was food -- especially for her family. And guess what -- that was what she got. Elijah told her that if she fed him, her food would not run out and it didn’t. Now please remember, the unending oil and meal supplied the wants of the widow and her son.
But here’s the real crucial point about this story, Elijah’s arrival at the widow’s home and his participation in the family’s daily life, only met the wants of the widow. However, God knew there was a bigger need that the widow would face and God also knew Elijah was just the man He needed for a crisis which hadn’t even occurred yet. God was not only prepared to help the widow with her daily life, He was also prepared for what she would need in her future, too!
I have shared this quote by Frank Gabelein with you before but I want to repeat it for I find this thought is totally appropriate in the circumstance the widow found herself in, “There is comfort in the fact that God can never be taken by surprise.” I don’t know about you but these words don’t just give me comfort, they give me the courage I need to get up every day, knowing that my heavenly Father is already prepared for everything He knows will confront me.
And so, if you were the widow of Zarephath, and your biggest want was food, and God supplied your want -- every single day -- you would probably be a happy camper thinking, “all is well.” But then, a huge crisis hit. The widow’s young son died.
You see, if I’d been in the widow’s place, I would have thought of Elijah as my meal-ticket for with his arrival in Zarephath my want for food was taken care of. But God, in His infinite wisdom knew there was something that the widow needed even more than food, and it was her young son.
When Elijah came into her home, God was able to show the widow that sometimes what we want so badly, isn’t what God knows we need -- now or in the future. WOW! And this is where the word “miracle” comes into focus.
Often we want a “miracle,” something we can’t do for ourselves. And our heavenly Father apparently withholds what we want so badly -- but then, surprise-of-surprise, He gives us something so much better we question our sanity for asking for something we later feel is meaningless in comparison with the gift God grants us.
Author Ian MacPherson, when discussing “signs” or “miracles” notes that these special tokens of God’s intervention in our lives are “not given to produce faith, but to inform faith.” Believe me, the widow of Zarephath, who some would have quickly labeled a “heathen,” spoke as an “informed” daughter of God when she said to Elijah, “I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
The beloved Scottish author, churchman and poet, Horatius Bonar, penned these expressive words which illuminate my belief that my God, the Creator of heaven and earth, not only knows, but understands my wants, and at His perfect moment and in His perfect time, He will meet, not only my wants but all He knows I need.
“To have each day the thing I wish,
Lord, that seems best to me;
But not to have the thing I wish,
Lord, that seems best to Thee.
Most truly, then, Thy will be done,
When mine, O Lord, is crossed;
‘Tis good to see my plans o’er thrown,
My ways in Thine all lost.”
“A miracle is a law-abiding event by which God accomplishes His redemptive purposes through the release of energies which belong to a plane of being higher than any with which we are normally familiar.”
“Almighty God, Father of all mercies, who hast promised to be with Thy children always; look down, we beseech Thee, upon those who suffer and are sorely in need of Thy help through illness of body, mind, or spirit. Lift us up to Thy presence, dear Lord, that we may with faith move forward. Give us such a measure of hope that it will continually sustain us…Help us to know, above all, that having surrendered ourselves to Thee, we are in Thy loving arms. Keep us safe, dear Lord, with Thee, ever mindful of Him who suffered, Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Thomas H. Wright
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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