Study 5 - We Walk By Faith, Not Sight
The word that Elijah longed to hear came at the last moment, the day the brook actually dried up. ‘Go at once to Zarephath … I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food’ (1 Kings 17:9). The prophet must have sighed with relief and thought, ‘Terrific! A home at last. I would have preferred the offer of a more luxurious house, but at least I’ll have some human company. You don’t get much fellowship with a raven: “Beautiful day isn’t it, ravens?” “Caw. Caw.” “What’s for lunch today?” “Caw.” “What do you think about the political situation of the nation?” “Caw. Caw. Caw.” Oh boy! Am I looking forward to some intelligent conversation! I bet she’s excited too. God has told her she’s going to have a prophet to come visit. I can see her now, basting the roast, baking the cakes – I can almost smell the cooking. Oh, joy!’
God does it my way!
When Elijah arrived at Zarephath, he met a woman. ‘Is this the widow?’ he must have thought. ‘She’s expecting me, so I’d better find the right password. I wonder what it is. Something to do with food, surely. As soon as I say “eat” or “drink” she’ll know that I’m the one she’s waiting for.
‘Excuse me, can you give me some water and bread, please?’ But the widow didn’t suddenly exclaim, ‘Oh, so you’re the prophet!’ and then shake him warmly by the hand. She said, ‘I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little 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). What a welcome!
How did Elijah react? Did he say to himself, ‘Lord, I thought you said that you’d commanded a widow to feed me! Well she doesn’t know anything about it and she hasn’t exactly got an abundant supply of food. Your plans have all gone wrong. It’s a hopeless mess. We’ll manage one scanty meal and then it’s curtains for all of us!’
God rarely does it my way!
No. Elijah’s response was magnificent. He didn’t allow his dilemma to damage his faith. Instead he took note that the woman said her last meal was for herself and her son. There was no husband. She was a widow, indeed, and God had promised a widow. Although the situation was outwardly bleak, Elijah believed that he was still on course, and he sustained his walk of faith by telling her, ‘Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son’ (1 Kings 17:13).
How often we give up when we are actually still on course. How often we think, ‘Oh, God, you told me … and it’s not working. What’s gone wrong?’ Moses probably thought that. God had told him, ‘I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt’ (Ex. 3:10). But when Moses tried to get the people out, he met not with enthusiasm, but with opposition. God had told Moses that Pharaoh would resist for a while, but Moses must have assumed that when Pharaoh had seen a couple of miracles, he would be bound to let the people go. This was not the case. In fact, things got so bad that Moses protested to God, ‘O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all’ (Ex. 5:22, 23).
Do you feel like that about your situation? Well, did God tell you that things would happen immediately, or does his plan need time to unfold? Are you walking by faith or by sight? It’s easy to believe what you see, but ‘faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’ (Heb. 11:1).
God fulfils His promises
Elijah believed that God would provide his needs through this widow, so he didn’t yield to the thought, ‘This is a hopeless mess.’ Rather, he resisted unbelief and told the woman not to fear. Then, because he remained in faith, his prophetic gift began to flow: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land’ (1 Kings 17:14). Elijah’s faith and prophetic word released the woman into faith too. She provided for him until the rain came – just as God had said she would.
Have faith to see that God is committed to doing what he promised. Don’t drop out because of disappointments and delays. God wants to give you a breakthrough. Keep believing for his provision – for your husband, your wife, your children, your parents, your church, even yourself. There will be no running out of resources. Hold your ground. Keep believing, move out increasingly into the supernatural and rejoice when God provides everything that he has promised.