It seems that I’ve had a running theme in my blogs lately about how much things “suck”. Pain, brokenness, being wrong. All of it sucks. But there is a lesson in it, right? And the lesson is faith. The pain we endure brings a harvest of faith. Faith is born from things that suck. I have to chuckle at that even as I write it.
God builds our faith as we endure trials.
2 And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 1 Kings 17:2-6
I have been contemplating Elijah again. After he prophesied the drought, God sent him to a specific creek where he would have water to drink and crows would bring him food. Elijah obeys. Wow. God told him birds would bring him food and Elijah didn’t laugh, he said, “okay.” That’s serious faith.
7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
1 Kings 17:7
The creek dries up. Because there’s a drought. And droughts mean no water. How easy it would have been for Elijah to raise up his hands in frustration and not faith and question why God would bring him to such a bitter end. But that’s not what happens. Elijah has faith that God will continue His faithfulness to His servant, and the word of the Lord does indeed speak to him.
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
1 Kings 17:8-12
So Elijah ends up in a town asking for an impoverished widow to take care of him. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Aren’t God’s people supposed to take care of widows and orphans, and not have them take care of us? But Elijah obeys. Elijah doesn’t question it, he just obeys the word of the Lord.
Sure enough, the widow obeys Elijah and by proxy obeys the Lord, she brings Elijah water and makes one last cake with the handful of flour and oil she had left. Bread and water. I can’t help but see Jesus here. Jesus is the bread of life and the living water. This obedience to the Lord’s request brings Elijah and the widow both a picture of Jesus as salvation. The bread and water would keep them alive. God would bring them salvation, and keep the flour and oil from running out. God brings salvation to the widow and Elijah.
13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah. 17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!”
1 Kings 17:13-18
The widow’s son dies. Ya. And the widow’s son, by her cultural perspective of the time, was her only chance at life with someone to take care of her. Without her husband, all she had was the hope in her son to provide for her. And he dies.
This would have been a really good time to give up. And the widow does! She’s devastated. But Elijah decides not to give up.
19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived.
1 Kings 17:19-22
He takes the boy upstairs, out of view of the widow, to have a private pleading moment with God. He begs the Lord to bring life back to the boy. And God listens! The boy’s life is restored.
This miraculous moment of resurrection further reveals the promise of Jesus. The son, the widow’s only means of salvation and life, is resurrected by God to show her that He will provide for her salvation.
23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
1 Kings 17:23-24
The widow’s faith is built up. She sees the power of God revealed in a tangible way, not just in the life returned to her son, but in the life that God provided for her, first with bread and oil, and then with the life of her son.
Elijah’s faith brought faith to the widow. Faith brings faith.
As we suffer and overcome, our faith expands and through that expansion, the people we are in contact with have their own faith built up. It may be the faith to finally trust in God, or perhaps it’s just the faith to endure, but as our faith is strengthened it has the power to multiply the faith in others.
Lord, help me trust You that my faith may be built up by the trials I endure in this life. Let my faith be a testimony. Build up my faith so others may be built up in faith. Let my faith produce more faith, that Your Glory may be revealed.