Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His tender compassions fails not.”
Lamentations 3: 22
“Lord of the Universe
look in love upon Your people
Pour the healing oil of Your
compassion on a world that
is wounded and dying.
Send us out in search of the lost,
to comfort the afflicted,
to bind up the broken,
and to free those trapped
under the rubble of their
Today’s Study Text:
“So he (Elijah) arose and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks.”
1 Kings 17: 10
“Life in Zarephath” – Part 5
God At Work on Both Ends”
“I lived, seen God’s hand through a lifetime, and all was for best.”
If I trace God’s working in my life, how and where have I seen Him at work at both ends of the problems I faced?
Is there a difficulty in my life right now where I see God working in one place but not another?
How hard is it for me to trust God in the darkness when I cannot see Him at work and the future appears extremely uncertain?
“If a Christian has to change his (or her) plans, it is always because God has something better in store.”
“God never does anything to you that isn’t for you.”
I just got back from working out for an hour with my Physical Therapist, Cherie. Despite the fact that she is “kindly” pulling and stretching on tissue in my shoulders and back that has been misshapened by broken bones that were not repaired correctly, I still appreciate her professional attempts to undo the damage I sustained throughout my body in the auto accident which very nearly killed Jim and me. If you go to the Transformation Garden website, and click on the “icon” called “Our Story,” I shared some of the events which were critical in the development of the Garden ministry. At the end of “Our Story” is a quote that really touched my heart when I read it a number of years ago. These are the words of Rowland Bingham, “There are no accidents in the life of a Christian.” I will tell you, I believe this statement today, more than ever. However, and this is big, in my personal life, my belief over the years, especially since our wreck, has been stretched nearly to the breaking point at times. I’m being honest for I believe that no matter how strong your faith, there are times when the unexplainable and the unthinkable fray our faith, leaving behind shredded threads that seen as if, with just one more yank -- everything will be in tatters.
Several weeks ago, when I was beginning to breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that the pain from the pinched nerve root in my cervical spine was starting to heal, on a Friday afternoon, the knife-like stabbing torture that shot through my right shoulder and down my arm and into my fingers began to cause excruciating discomfort again. As I lay on the padded exam table having alternating ice and heat applied to my neck and shoulder, Cherie said, “You need to breathe. You are heaving not breathing.” What she didn’t know, because my face was buried in a pillow was that at that precise moment, I was weeping uncontrollably. The passage in Romans 8: 28, “All things work together for good to them that love God,” just didn’t cut it for me right then. I share this with you because when so many of you write and tell me how badly you feel because you aren’t “having enough faith in God” when in fact you are walking through a fire or nearly drowning as you pass through a flood, I try to always write to you to encourage you that even Jesus, when in the Garden of Gethsemane, longed for the comfort of His closest friends. What’s more, He called out to His Father, feeling in the darkness, distraught and abandoned. These are human emotions that don’t just pierce our hearts, they pierced Jesus’ heart, too. And this is why, in the moments when we feel forgotten and are in desperate sorrow or languishing in pain, I find that my personal thoughts often reflect the providence of God.
The word providence means divine direction. And it may seem to be an odd word to think of when you’re feeling as though some horrifically capricious act has turned your life upside down and left you to repeatedly reap the bitter consequences. I know what I’m saying because I’ve walked this path, especially for the past twenty-four months when physical pain, financial upheaval, and emotional trauma have seemed to be my daily fare. While I’ve seen God at work in the lives of many I’m praying for, the lack of His light on my path has made me feel, at times, that I’m stumbling about in total darkness.
I don’t tell you this because I am doubting God. I’m sharing this with you because I know from your letters that so many of you are facing such unbelievable tragedies and then to add to your sorrows, you are beating on yourself because you’ve been led to believe falsely that if only you had more faith, every problem would melt away like a late spring snow on a warm day.
To think that our gracious God holds it against us and withholds His healing, wherever we need it in our lives, just because we are not exhibiting the strength of spiritual muscle-women or muscle-men, certainly does a disservice to our Father.
This is why, just as Elijah entered the town of Zarephath, it would do us well to direct our attention to the fact that as Elijah came in…a widow came out. They didn’t “happen” to bump into each other. Don’t believe it for a minute. And let me prove this fact with just a few other ‘happenstance meetings!”
- Pharaoh’s daughter “happened” to arrive at the Nile for her bath when Jochebed placed her baby, named Moses, in a reed basket on the water.
- Two Israelites went into Jericho and “happened” to go to the only house in the city where the occupant, Rahab, believed in the God of heaven and earth.
- Joseph, left languishing in an Egyptian prison, falsely accused, “happened” to be remembered as a predictor of dreams. As Joseph later told his repentant brothers, whose treachery was at the heart of his troubles, “You meant this for evil, God turned it into good.”
And it is God at work -- doing, directing, and planning which is at the center of His providence bringing good out of every bad thing that happens to you and to me. Although there are days when I frankly don’t get it because I can’t see it, how thankful I am to know that I serve a God who puts it all together. While I’m feeling that everything has run dry in Cherith, He already has a home for me in Zarephath. And while I’m running out of food in Zarephath, God’s answer to my hunger problem is on a 100-mile journey walking right out to meet me at the perfect moment and the perfect place in Zarephath.
Don’t kid yourself, there was more than one way to get into Zarephath. However, if you were Elijah, there was only one way for God to place his feet in the right spot. And for the widow, it’s likely she could have found fire kindling, anywhere outside the city -- but there was only one place to go where God was making certain she would never go hungry again.
One of my favorite quotes, which hangs on my writing desk was penned by Matthew Biller and it is this:
“God will answer when to thee,
Not a possibility
Of deliverance seems near;
It is then He will appear
God will answer when you pray
Yea, though mountains block the way,
At His word, a way will be
Even through mountains, made for thee.
God who still divides the sea,
Willingly will work for thee,
God, before whom mountains fall,
Promises to hear thy call.”
He’s at work in Cherith. He’s at work on the 100-mile road you are traveling. And He’s at work in Zarephath in ways you would never imagine. Our God’s capable of multi-tasking! I call it God-tasking and believe me, He’s on the job for you right now! He is at work on both ends, and everywhere in between!
“While providence supports,
Let saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guide His children well.”
“You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, His generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes!”
Philippians 4: 19
The Message Bible
“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Lord unto me!”
Thomas O. Chisholm
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. Just to let you know, Transformation Garden is now on FACEBOOK. Please come and see us and share the garden with your friends. The Daily Devotional will be posted everyday, on Monday through Friday on Facebook, too.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-281-1508.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.