Monday, June 15, 2020

Even When I'm Not Feeling It

These are reflections from my morning quiet time with God today.

And the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.’” (1 Kings 17:24)

In this passage, a widow from Zarephath speaks to Elijah the prophet. Sometime before, he had come to her at God’s direction, because the brook from which he’d been drinking water during the drought dried up. God had told Elijah that this widow would prepare a meal for him.

When Elijah approached her, the widow had only a small amount of flour and oil. Elijah assured her that this supply would never run out and that if she prepared cakes for him, she, her son, and Elijah himself would live.

That’s what happened for a long time. Then, one day, the widow’s son died. She was certain that, despite God’s provision, God had sent Elijah to remind her of her sin and to kill her son (1 Kings 17:18). Elijah then appealed to God and God brought the boy back to life. It’s at this moment that the widow affirmed her belief that Elijah was a man of God who spoke the Word of God.

It seems strange that only here does the widow make this affirmation. For three years, she acted on Elijah’s assurance that, because he was God’s prophet, “the handful of flour and..little oil in a jug” (1 Kings 17:12) would sustain the three of them. She’d acted as though she believed.

When there was just enough for her and her son to fix one final paltry meal, then die, she could have told Elijah to go packing. But she hadn’t done that. She fixed a cake for the prophet and found enough flour and oil to make one for her son and herself, too.

This had gone on for maybe three years (1 Kings 18:1). Everyday, the widow went to the same nearly empty bag of flour and nearly empty jug of oil and found enough to feed the three of them.

It appears that she acted on faith and had done so for some time.

Yet when her son dies, we see her doubts. She doubts Elijah’s office as God’s prophet, doubts her own worthiness of God’s forgiveness, and doubts, it seems, that God has had anything to do with the provision He’s made for her all this time.

It’s only after God answers Elijah’s prayers for her son to be given life again that she tells Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

What I find remarkable and laudable about this woman is that she acts in faith even when she’s not feeling it.

Faith, like love, isn’t something you always feel. It’s something you act on, living out of trust in God, even when you’re not feeling so trusting.

Jesus’ death and resurrection affirm Him to be the same God that Elijah served and that He has power to set all who believe in Him free from sin, death, and futility. Jesus’ death and resurrection vindicate our faith in God.

The changed and changing lives of those we know who dare to follow Jesus also vindicate such faith.

That’s true even when, like the widow, I’m  not feeling it.

My call is to keep following the God I meet in Jesus no matter how I’m feeling. And I’m called to keep sharing Him in times of drought and surfeit, joy and sorrow, hope and despair.

No matter what, the God we meet in Jesus Christ is still God. I can trust in Him.

Father, forgive my despair. Forgive me for taking You for granted or not thinking of You at all. Forgive too, my reliance on my feelings and thoughts rather than on Your truth. Christ is crucified, risen, and ascended even when I’m not feeling it, even when I can’t understand it. Help me today to trust in You. Help me to act on a faith already vindicated by my Savior Jesus. In His name I pray. Amen

[The painting is by Bernardo Strozzi [1581-1644] and is called Prophet Elijah and the Widow of Sarepta.]

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