Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Widow of Zarephath, Part II

On Monday, we saw that the widow's son had become sick. He became more and more ill, and then died. In her grief, the widow began to question that faith that had recently taken hold in her life. She even lashed out at Elijah, as her mind began to work, and her conscience bothered her. Why had her son passed away?

Elijah had looked at her and at her son cradled in her arms, and his heart ached for them. He knew the God of all times and seasons could solve this problem. He asked her to let him hold her son, and he tenderly carried him up to the room where he stayed.

Most likely, the scholars tell us, this was a small room or loft on the second floor of the house. Her house was a place of poverty, but this room was a place of glory. It was here that the prophet met in prayer with almighty God. The power of God was what kept the oil flowing freely, and it kept the flour barrel from being empty. It was here, in this very plain and secret place, that Elijah met and talked with God.
We can see this in the life of our Lord, as well.
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.Later that night, he was there alone, (Matthew 14:23)
After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. (Mark 6:46)
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12)
Do we see a lesson here for all of us to learn? I do; I see one for me (as I bandage my toes that have been thoroughly tromped on). How many times do we seek God and ask for His assistance, for His blessings? How many times do we actually get away, by ourselves, and focus on His majesty, His grace, and His power? Or do we just focus on here's-what-I-need-and-when-I-need-it? How many of our battles would turn into victories . . . . how many of our obstacles would melt away . . . . if we would seek out that secret place of prayer, and that quiet talk with the Father?

In verses 20 and 21 of our focus passage, we see this:
Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” (I Kings 17:20-21)
Elijah is showing all of us the powerful truth that there is work in prayer. Serious work. Work and prayer go hand in hand, in many passages of the Bible, and prayer that gets the job done is often work. Elijah is also showing us that he was not relying on himself, nor on past victories. He was relying on the God Who could and does answer prayer.

Even believers wonder sometimes why we do not see God's answers to our prayers at times. Of course, it goes without saying that we may be asking for something we're not yet ready for, or that would be a long-term negative in our lives . . . God may be protecting us.
But could it be at times that we are guilty of what Jesus said in Luke 6? Let's check back there:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?"      (Luke 6:46)
Ouch again.
If our Christianity doesn't affect our hearts and hands and heels, just as much as our heads, then there is something wrong. Perhaps that is why a popular evangelist said that many people's Christianity doesn't even last until they get out of the church parking lot.
I had a vivid example of this brought to my attention recently . . . In a conversation, someone was telling about a presentation that had been shown at her workplace. It detailed the efforts of law enforcement and citizens to stop human trafficking in our area. It broke her heart to hear of toddlers and adolescents taken into a lifestyle where they were never their own people; they were used and abused in slavery and prostitution, until that time that they died. Right here in the US. As she sat almost in tears at the end of the meeting, she was shocked at the cavalier manners and attitude of those around her. They discussed lunch plans as if the presentation had been of no consequence.
These were people who live in a "Christian" nation. They probably attend church services each week. But their hearts, their hands, and their heels were not in the game. They were unmoved to reach out, to try to help others.
(I'm grateful to the Lord to say that the one who was moved, and who wants to help effect change, is one of my own. I hope God will bless as we look for ways to help.)

Look at what happened when Elijah got involved. When he prayed and focused on those prayers.
God raised that child from the dead!
The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!” 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” (I Kings 17:22-24)
Consider the proofs for a living God that had been given to this widow. The prophet had probably told them about how the ravens fed him twice a day. She had experienced first hand the unfailing supply of oil and meal. Now she sees a miracle performed by God through Elijah. Her own son is alive, and standing before her, and probably runs to hug her.  I bet there was no question now in her mind that the God of heaven cared about her, and about her son.

What does the world need today?
Not more mega-churches. Not more "things." Just people who are alive because of the miracle of God's mercy and grace -- who will tell about how He raised them to new life. Who will use their hearts and hands and heels to show others their God.

1 comment:

Katie Isabella said...

You have provided the best of studies. I read every word with eagerness. I learned and I also felt justified in my faith and know that I am not alone out here. Thank you.