God’s ways are incomprehensible. He uses all kinds of means and ways to provide for us. He can do anything and everything.
As Elijah sat alone by the Kerith Brook where God hid him from King Ahab who wanted to kill him, I wonder what he must have felt. God sent ravens to bring him bread and meat in the morning and evening. But ravens? Birds who feast on decaying flesh and garbage? I wonder… Did he shudder or gag?
As the drought lengthened, he had to watch the water in the brook diminish day by day. Did his hope also weaken? We are not told, but he was human, and it must have been so hard to hang onto hope at times.
God also provided bread for his soul, or he couldn’t have endured it. Though he was in a wide open space, being solitary can adversely affect mind and body. Except for the grace of God, he would have succumbed under it all. He had to trust God would provide for him in every way. And his heart must have been aching for the souls of the people who were following Baal and other gods instead of the one true God. But he couldn’t tell them. He had to surrender to God’s will and way no matter what it cost.
When the brook dried up, God did not forget him. He sent him to a widow in Zarephath of Zidon, the center of Baal-worship and the original home of Queen Jezebel who wanted him dead. Did he quake with fear? Did he wonder what God had in mind? He had over 100 miles of hot desert to walk and think about it all. Yet he obediently followed God’s leading.
Zarephath means “a workshop for the smelting and refining of metals” (Dictionary.com). More trials were ahead for Elijah to refine him more into God’s image, to purify away all the dross of self and to equip him for the work God had for him to do.
When he got to the widow, he asked for water. As the widow went to get some, he asked for some bread, too. She replied, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”
But Elijah still trusted God would provide, and said, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”
Wow! God would not allow him, the widow, or her son to starve during the years the drought lasted. End of story? Nope. More severe testing…
The widow’s son got sick and died. Elijah’s heart broke. He carried the boy to his bed and cried out in anguish, “O Lord my God, why have You brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”
He then stretched out on the boy three times and begged God for his life. And wonder of wonders, God graciously revived this child.
You can find this story in I Kings 17. Ever since I studied this passage at a Bible Study with some other women, I have been thinking a lot of how much I underestimate God’s powerful grace and provision. Isn’t God the same yesterday, today, and forever?
Even today God cares about every little detail of our lives. He wants us to ask for His provision for mind, body, and soul. He has the power to provide for us far beyond what we ask or think. He sometimes severely tests us to refine us more into His image, to lose the dross of ourselves.
Because Elijah went through severe testing, he became better equipped to do the difficult things God had in store for him. Without strength in His God, he could never gather the courage to move forward to follow God no matter what the cost. And God still works the same way today. Through trials God is preparing us for something greater to His glory.
Does that mean we will never fear? No, but faith does not mean it won’t be without fear. Does that mean we will never question God? No, even Elijah the prophet questioned God. Does that mean we will always get what we ask for? No, because God knows a better way.
Any way God provides for us is remarkable, whether it’s loud and bold or quiet and unseen. And sometimes it can even be through stinky, flesh-eating ravens or a mysterious way of a little flour stretching a long ways. God can not be put in a box, and He uses whichever way He chooses.
“Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday, today, and forever.”
~ Hebrews 13:8
“Now all glory to God, who is able,
through His mighty power at work within us,
to accomplish infinitely more
than we might ask or think.
~ Ephesians 3:20