I KINGS 17:13-16: “Then Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. But first make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. Afterward, you may make some for yourself and your son, for this is what the Lord God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.’” So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. Then the woman, Elijah, and her household ate for many days. The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry, according to the word of the Lord he had spoken through Elijah.” CSB
OBSERVATION: What do we do when the miracle ends? Everyone wants a miracle in their life. And, it is a wonderful thing when a miracle comes our way. But, what do we do when the miracle ends?
I was struck with this thought when I read the story of the widow and Elijah. God had stopped the rain in the land according to the word of Elijah. This was a judgment against Israel’s King Ahab. Yet, this judgment also touched innocent people. And one of these individuals was the Zarephath widow and her young son. It also touched Elijah himself!
Elijah had been commanded by God to go to the Wadi Cherith during this drought. He was to drink from the wadi and ravens would bring him food in the morning and the evening. This was a miraculous provision. Yet, even for Elijah, this miraculous provision came to an end. Then God directed him to go to the Zarephath widow for water and food.
When Elijah came to the widow he asked for a drink of water. As she was going to draw some water, Elijah then asked for some bread. The widow explained that she had only enough to make a small cake for her and her son. She was going to do this so she and her son could go off to die. What a tragic situation. And how did Elijah respond? He responded with a request and a promise!
- “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. But first make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. Afterward, you may make some for yourself and your son, for this is what the Lord God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.”
Talk about miraculous provision! Can you imagine the wonder in the widow’s heart each time she drew flour and oil to make bread? Just as Elijah had spoken, the flour and oil did not run out according to the word of Elijah. However, this miracle did not last forever. It lasted until the day the Lord sent rain on the surface of the land. There was a beginning and an end to the miracle in the widow’s life.
There was also a beginning and an end to the miraculous provision of manna for the Children of Israel. For 40 years they would gather manna every morning for their daily provision. And on Friday they would gather enough for two days so they did not have to work on the Sabbath. Then, when they had entered into the Promised Land – the manna ceased. There was a beginning and an end to their miracle.
What do you do when the miracle ends? We all would rather live in the miracle. However, this is neither possible or realistic. Peter, James, and John wanted to build tabernacles on the mount of transfiguration when they saw Jesus in all of His glory. Yet, they too had to go down from the mountain. God graciously brings miraculous provision into our lives at certain times of need. Yet, this is not the norm. The norm is the norm.
So how do we live when we find ourselves in the norm again? What was the widow to do when the rain came and the flour and oil stopped multiplying? What were the Children of Israel to do when the manna stopped in the Promised Land? They were to do something that God intends us all to do. They were to walk by faith – and work!
- “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing. But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrificial service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me.” Philippians 2:12-18 CSB
There is a difference between works righteousness, the attempt to earn our salvation, and the works OF righteousness. The works OF righteousness are the acts of obedience that flow from the heart of faith. It is the robust embracing of life and responsibility in the calling and station we find ourselves in life. It is putting our hand to the plow without looking back. It is realizing that miracles do happen, but we cannot live in them. We live by faith. And our faith calls us to work, to obey, to employ all the gifts that God has given us.
There have been many times that I have waited for the miracle of God. I have thought – “When the miracle comes, then I will be able to do this.” Yet, Elijah did not ask the widow to make him a cake from the oil and flour that God would provide. Rather, Elijah asked the widow to make him a cake from the oil and flour she had. The widow did not obey when the miracle came. She obeyed solely upon the word from the Lord’s anointed. She obeyed in faith!
So, when the miracle stops, we obey in faith. When the miracle happens, we obey in faith. The just live by faith – regardless of the circumstance. When the manna ceased, by faith, the Children of Israel planted crops and worked the land. It took faith to gather the manna and it took faith to plant the seeds. When the miracle stops, we obey in faith!
Lord, forgive me for the times that I have waited for the miracle before obeying You. Forgive me for the times when I have wanted to build a tabernacle and linger in the past of the miracle rather than embracing the present and the future in faith. Grant me the grace to embrace today and all that You are calling me to do. When the miracle stops – help me to continue in faith!
In Jesus Name!