Elijah

A Command that Doesn’t Make Sense

I am doing character studies in Scripture again and one common figure that has fascinated me is Elijah. He is known to be the one of two persons never to die, and reading his story and how the Lord used him, it is clear as to why he was graced as such. Nevertheless, he was a real person with real emotions that at one point made him suicidal. Within the stories centered around this man of God, we are introduced to a widow, whose name was not provided and all we know is that she had a son.

Reading this story, which I have read or heard preached several times, I was struck when God told Elijah that He had already commanded the woman to feed him. First of all, the fact that we get this piece of the character of God, we see how He truly does value women. Often times, people consider Judaism or stigmatize the place of women in the Old Testament and the corresponding culture, but this excerpt is one of many where we see God’s consideration of and revelation to women. So awesome. Still, the focus is on the command itself.

God had called this woman to minister to His prophet, Elijah, by giving him food. Fair enough, but the only problem was that she had none to give. So now what??

Being a widow in that time, it is no surprise that she was struggling, and the pressure on her was much greater considering that she had a son to take care of as well, so the last thing that she needed was God to tell her to give away what she really didn’t have to give. Yet, she did have something to give. Yes, it was barely enough just for her and her son and starvation was looking like a sure thing; she didn’t see the value in what she had, but made the commitment to obey God, though she didn’t know how. Isn’t that just like us??

God often commands us to do the impossible, for when we look around and consider what we have at our immediate disposal, we often think we misheard God or just fall into disobedience. I heard at a conference, “whatever the need, you have the seed to produce it,” and oh how this widow’s obedience reflects this principle. As we read the rest of the story, we see first that she was willing to obey, but she was just unsure how, and that is completely fine, since it will often lead us into unknown and scary situations, which is why Elijah told her not to be afraid and to do first what God commanded her to do before doing what she thought was necessary, like feeding her son. Now do I think that she was immediately assured to the fact of no fear or apprehension? Maybe not, but Elijah encouraged her that by sowing that seed, the Lord would bless her for the years to come during the famine. Her seed would meet her need. She was desperate, struggling, and preparing to die, but God met her where she was, giving her the opportunity to trust God with literally all that she had. And when you really think about it, she really had nothing to lose if she was going to die anyway.

In our moments of desperation, God still calls us to bless others in various ways, we must never forget that, because the earth and its fullness belongs to Him. As we see, the blessing of obedience far outweighs the cost of obedience.

As we continue to be ourselves and live our lives on purpose, we must never get so consumed with what we have that we hoard the little bit. God is a God of multiplication and whenever we sow those seeds and live in even the smallest acts of obedience,¬†following the commands that don’t make sense or appear to magnify the struggle we are in, rather than rescue us, He promises to prove Himself, His power, His provision, and His faithfulness.¬† All of this is the beauty of the journey, because the biggest moves of God in our lives are in those random situations that can’t be logically processed as possible or effective; every mandate has a purpose, whether you recognize it immediately or not. So I have one question, do you trust Him?

Temptation

unbearableSo 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except which is common to man; but God who is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you will be able to bear it.”

I actually heard Tony Evans speak on it not long ago. Long story short, this verse is used too often the wrong way. When people normally go through various trials or hardships, they quote this verse as motivation that they can get through. In a sense that’s good. Although, I think what people are missing is the word “temptation.” Paul specifically says that we won’t be tempted beyond what we can bear. That is to say that whatever the Devil could ever use to tempt you, there will never be a situation so compromising that you would not be able to resist the attempt of the enemy. That’s it. Still, if you are truly being tempted, you can overcome rather than succumb into falling into sin.

Nonetheless, in most cases when it is used, it’s as if life will never get so bad that we can’t bear it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. How many times have you or someone you know been in a situation that you honestly could say was unbearable, and this has nothing to do with being tempted. Just think of characters in the Bible like Job (Job 3:21; 6:9; 7:15-16), he lost everything and everyone in his life, apart from his friends, most of which didn’t help the situation at all. Do you think he could bear it? Or Jeremiah he almost lost in (Jeremiah 20), or Moses (Numbers 20) when he lost his cool dealing with the Israelites, or Paul (2 Corinthians 11:22-29; 12:7-8), or Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), or even Jesus (Luke 22:42). All these were great men of God, but they couldn’t handle it. So why should we think we will go through life with just situations that we can bear?

The truth of the matter, when we are put in those situations, God shows His awesome power and glory, and grace and mercy all the more. When we get to those unbearable times in life, He wants to prove that He can. As we face those situations, God’s purpose is to show us how much we truly need Him; He never meant for you to bear the unbearable alone (Matthew 11:28; 2 Corinthians 12:9). So I encourage you, if you are going through something you can’t bear, that’s okay. Why? God can, so lean on Him, cry out to Him, and hold on to Him, because your life hear and after depends on Him.