Read: 1 Kings 17:7-24
Reflect: For many of us, life has taken some unusual twists and turns over the past eighteen months. Have your experiences over this period of time changed your perspective or relationship with God? Are you as confident in his ability to be your provider? Has he remained your reliable source of comfort? Have circumstances caused your focus on your relationship with him to become out of focus?
In 1Kings 17, we find God’s providence and caring touch in the life of the prophet Elijah in difficult times. After delivering the news to the evil King Ahab about the coming drought in Israel, God provided protection and sustenance for Elijah in the most unusual ways. The first being at the Kerith Brook where Elijah was daily fed by ravens. As time passed and the brook dried up, the Lord instructed Elijah to leave Israel and go to Zarephath in Phoenicia.
Elijah quickly learned that God has the ability to provide help when and where we least expect it. Elijah was to assure this poor Phoenician widow that by the Lord God of Israel, that a supply of food would be provided, not only enough for Elijah, but also to be plenty for her and her son. God’s provision of ample meal and oil was only to come one day at a time. Every day she would have to exercise faith by reaching into the jar for flour and then pouring in oil from a bottle which seemed to be bottomless. God’s generosity was found not in hoarding but in using of what God daily provided. The widow was learning that faith is the step between God’s promise and the assurance of the fulfillment of that promise. For this woman, her faith journey began by listening to a stranger who gave her what seemed to be an impossible request. This opened the door to her having a relationship with God.
Even with the food miracle God delivered through Elijah, the widow found that her troubles were not yet over. God’s provision is rarely given in order to allow us to stay stagnant in our faith. Our dependence grows through new challenges. The widow’s son became ill and died. In her sorrow, she questioned Elijah and the kindness and mercy of the God he represented. With deep concern and compassion Elijah took the child and prayed and pleaded to God for the child’s life to be restored. With her son now restored to life, the widow was assured and satisfied when she said, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the Word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
Apply: In the Old Testament God sometimes revealed Himself to mankind by direct and vivid methods, such as the 40-day flood or the parting of the Red Sea. God spoke clearly and directly to those he loved when He instructed Abraham to leave his homeland and journey to a new land for fulfillment of God’s purpose to father a nation. In 1Kings 17, Elijah responded to God’s instructions to find safety by a brook and then further showed obedience by relocating to a foreign place unaffected by the drought. In today’s world God may work in more subtle and indirect ways. For Elijah, God’s hand and voice provided clear and direct guidance although God often chose to leave out the details. Today we rely more on the Holy Spirit and the guidance of Scriptures to build and strengthen our relationship with, and obtain guidance from God. The unusual twists and turns of life’s troubles can often distract and break down that vital connection and relationship with God. As you review the questions posed at the beginning of this devotional, reflect and meditate on Elijah and the widow as they experienced God’s caring touch in their lives under challenging circumstances. Which areas raised by any of the questions you are experiencing today do you need to pray and ask God for help to reconnect you to His caring touch?