In the story of the widow and Elijah in 1 Kings 17, you see the great lengths God will go, to reveal himself to those he loves.
Ahab was king of Israel, and had the distinction of being the most wicked.
God raised up the prophet Elijah and used a severe 3 year famine to get everyone’s attention.
But while God was working in the big picture he also was interested in revealing himself to one widow. This story shows God’s heart so clearly. He isn’t ‘far away and impersonal’. He cares about the cast-offs in society. He sees every person. This woman was a widow and apparently not even an Israelite. (Luke 4:26) Just like the Samaritan women at the well. Similar to Mary Magdalene. God loves women. God cares about even (especially) the societal outcasts.
Elijah was being supernaturally fed by ravens at a brook. But God allowed the brook to dry up because he was sending Elijah to a widow who had lost hope.
Elijah found the women who had quite literally come to the end of herself; “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 1 Kings 17:12
Elijah responded, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 17:13-14
She must have been hungry and skeptical but she had enough faith to do as he said. God did come through. The jar and jug didn’t run out, day after day.
The story wasn’t over though. Shortly after, her one son; all she had in life, got very sick and died. They had just been snatched from the hand of death. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” 17:18
That wasn’t what God had in mind though. The story wasn’t over.
Elijah took the boy “and laid him on his bed. 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?” 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!”
The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 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!” 17:19-23
We see why God sovereignly allowed this all to happen in the widow’s response.
“Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” 17:24
God allowed the worst possible scenario (and resulting miracle) to happen in this woman’s life so that she would be able to know the truth.
This echo’s the story of Lazarus in John 11. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. But he allowed Larazus to die so that they could all see the power of God. “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Whether we get a miracle in this life or the next.
Jesus saw their grief and felt it. “Jesus wept.” John 11:35 The shortest verse in the Bible.
Jesus is our High Priest who feels our pain. He understand our fears. He loves us. He went to the tomb. He got his feet dirty. At his command, the dead man was raised.
Ultimately we will all experience this miracle resurrection. The trumpet will sound. Death will be swallowed up in victory. 1 Cor. 15:5
God goes to great lengths to reveal himself to those he loves. Sometimes that includes hopeless situations. If God is God of your life the hopeless is allowed (temporarily) for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it…. so that you may believe.
Lord Jesus, help us to be strong men and women of Faith. Help us to grow through the good and the bad. Use our lives to spread the pleasing aroma of Christ in this dark world, no matter what. In Jesus name, Amen.