Faith can do great things. Your faith to obey God is a testimony to the world to God’s goodness and greatness.
Elijah was a powerful prophet of great faith. His faith allowed him to obey The Lord regardless of the troubles which surrounded him. King Ahab was the most evil king of Israel yet, and The Lord sent the prophet to the king. Verse 1 reads,
“Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
The Lord then sent Elijah to live east of Jordan by a brook Cherith. He provided for Elijah in an amazing way, he drank from the brook and ravens brought him bread and meat every morning and evening. But eventually the brook dried up. Elijah could have lost hope. He could have called for rain, but instead he chose to trust God. And God sent him to a widow in Zarapeth who would feed him. Elijah arrived to find the woman gathering sticks. He didn’t know it but he had arrived just in time. He asked the widow to bring him some water. As she left to get it for him, he asked her to bring him a little bread as well. She told Elijah just how desperate her situation was. Verses 12-16 read,
“And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The 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.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.”
This woman was ready to eat her last meal and then die of starvation with her son. Elijah knew God had sent him to this woman and I would guess that he must have wanted to help her very much. She was not merely hungry but close to death due to famine caused by the drought. Once again, Elijah could end the drought by commanding rain, but instead He chose to trust God and let Him provide. He told the woman that God was going to provide for her in a miraculous way and so He did. Until it rained, she would have all the oil and flour she needed and so Elijah, the widow, and her son would eat.
The Lord was being so good to her and on top of that she was given the honor of hosting the prophet, a man of God. But then the enemy attacked and suddenly her only son became very ill and died. She was, of course devastated. She had been given hope, they were not going to die of starvation and now her child was dead. Verse 18 reads,
“And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!”
She reacted as many of us might, first she blamed Elijah. But then she blamed herself. Which of her sins had caused her to be punished by losing her son? What had she done to deserve such a horrible thing? She thought God wanted her to suffer. But her sins were not the reason for her child’s illness or his death. Her reaction was similar to the Disciples in John 9 when they met a blind man and asked Jesus whether his parents or he had sinned and caused his blindness. John 9:3-7 says,
“Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”
This was the case for the widow’s son, his death was so that God could be glorified. It gave Elijah an opportunity to show the widow how truly great God was. Elijah knew God didn’t want the woman to suffer. He had been feeding her, but he loved her so much that He now He would show her something really great. Verses 19-23 read,
“And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child's life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.”
Not long before this her son had been so malnourished that he had been close to death. Then he had died suddenly of a serious illness, but now he was alive. He was alive because Elijah had faith in God. He was alive because Elijah knew how much God loved the boy and his mother. Elijah asked the Lord, not once but three times. He cried out to God and God listened. He gave the child his life again. Elijah’s obedience to God was a great testimony to The Lord. Verse 24 says,
“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.”
Elijah could have stopped what The Lord was doing over Israel and called rain and any time, but He trusted God with his provision, and obeyed. He could have called rain to help the starving widow, but he had faith in God’s will and let God provide for him, the widow and her child. And God used him in a way that many of us might never know.
Do you trust God like that? Do you know His will is better than yours? It is faith and obedience like that which give hope to the hopeless and life to the dying. Go ahead, try it, and see what faith can do.