03/27/2020 - By Pastor Doug Batchelder
We are not the first believers to experience times of trial. It has been the history of worshippers of the true God since the days of Abraham and before.
Elijah lived through such a time – having delivered God's message to a hostile king, Ahab, and Elijah had to hide in the wilderness from Ahab's wrath. But God met him there and fed him by means of birds (Who lived every day without worry, by the provision of God for them.) and God provided water for Elijah from the brook nearby.
Then the brook dried up.
Elijah probably worried. We can understand his water and food insecurity. I have been in the desert wilderness of the Middle East, the land of the children of Israel. The desert is a beautiful desolation, but it is a lonely place of danger. (The missionary with whom I traveled said, "In a contest with the desert, the desert always wins." Water is scarce. When the water dried up, the ravens left, the food ran out and the lack of food and water threatened Elijah's survival.
Then God spoke: "Arise and go...to Zarephath." God sent Elijah to a place which, in all likelihood he intended never to go– for Zarephath was in the coastal heart of Canaanite territory – occupied by hostile Gentiles and hated by the Jews. They were long-time enemies.
But Elijah went as directed to the home of a Canaanite widow and her son – who were on the brink of starvation. He requested refuge and food. In the culture of the Middle East, whoever shows up at your tent in need of shelter, food and water – you are obligated to help him or her, even if an enemy. You see, everyone who lives there knows, "The desert always wins. 'But', she objected, 'I only have enough for my son and me to eat ... and then die.'"
Then God spoke again, this time through His follower, Elijah, to this woman in need, who did not know God. "Do not fear…. For the Lord, the God of Israel (not whoever or whatever you have trusted who, by the way, left you to starve.) has said, µThe 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.'"
So, she demonstrated faith and made bread with the little she had, and she shared it. You see, faith is acting on the basis of what you know to be true. When she was done, there was still flour and oil left -- day after day until the crisis was over.
That should encourage us in this time of trial we and our country, indeed the world, are enduring in the COVID crisis. It is taking us to places in life we never intended or wanted to go. But that is where God will be found – by us and by others. It is time to trust God. It is time for our faith to act on the basis of what we know to be true. It is time to not worry – for worry is a lonely desert. Instead it is a time to trust, share and be generous. Why? Because, if God's plan for our day includes walking on water, using lions for pillows, or pouring oil from a never-ending jar, we will.