When The Pressure Is On, Take a Deep Breath Then Laugh
“So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The thing about tough times is they don’t tend to work according to our convenience. For example, the appliance rarely, if ever, breaks down while it’s under warranty. It usually falls a part at 12:00 midnight the day after. And major repairs on your car are not needed while you have money in your emergency account. No, it only happens after you’ve exhausted it to pay for the appliance that broke own in the kitchen. Then there are those times when it seems you are hit by one trouble after another before you can deal with one there comes another and then another.
The worst are those things that get drawn out over time and into which you exhaust all your resources until you have nothing from which to draw. Your health maybe failing and you don’t know where to turn. You can’t afford another doctor. So what do you do? Or your financial situation has been wrecked by one attack after another. You’ve asked everyone you know to help and dear friends have been generous but everyone has their challenges and you dare not ask them to help you again. You think to yourself they must have grown weary of rescuing you from one thing after another or you think they are judging you a poor steward of your resources. What do you do?
Then there is the push and pressure of time. If you don’t get help by 12:01 your entire world will come crashing down and you will lose everything and be thrown out into the street, your home will be repossessed, your children will be taken away and you will be left alone in your sickness to die. Does the Bible have anything to say to you?
YES! AND AMEN!
Here are three stories of people who had come to the end of their resources with nowhere to turn.
“So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, 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.” 1Kings 17:12
In this first story the prophet Elijah, by the Word of the Lord has declared judgment over Ahab, King of Israel because he did evil in the sight of the Lord and caused Israel to sin likewise. So the prophet declared that there would be no rain for three years. During that time the Lord told Elijah to go to a certain place, where there was a brook near the Jordon River and to stay there. The ravens would bring him food, and he should remain there until the Lord instructed him further. So he did. He drank water from the brook and the ravens brought him bread and meat twice a day. Eventually, the brook dried up because there was no rain, so God told him to go to Zarephath in the region of Zidon. There God had commanded a widow woman to take care of him.
Ok, lets review this situation, A) Elijah, the prophet of God had declared there would be no rain for three years. B) The source of water, in the place where he was staying during the drought, dried up, so C) God sends him to live in a nearby city where a widow woman had been commanded to provide for him.
So, Elijah goes there. But what He finds is not what you or I would expect. I’m not sure it was what Elijah expected, but the Scriptures don’t tell us. What we do know is when he got to the gate of the city the widow woman who was supposed to provide for him was out there at the gate gathering sticks.
“So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.” 1 Kings 17:10-11
So Elijah, following God’s Word made what would be a natural and simple request of the woman who had been commanded by God “to sustain” him. But her response to his request left little room for hopeful expectation that she had anything to sustain herself let alone another person. She was preparing for her son and herself to die.
I don’t doubt for a moment that God had spoken to her and that she had gladly received the commandment, but then as time went on all her resources dried up and she gave up hope that the man of God whom she had been commanded to sustain would ever come. So, when he did finally come she didn’t recognize him. Instead of saying or even thinking, this is the prophet. Finally. things are going to get better now. My son and I are not going to die. God will provide all that we need to sustain His prophet and us.
No, she simply said what her situation was and probably expected him to say then, “Oh, bless your heart. Never mind, I’ll see if I can find someone else.”
Instead he said to her…(and this is the turning point for her faith,) he said to her, “Fear not.” Before anything can happen to turn this situation around fear had to be dealt with. In the moment of pressure, anxiety and the threat of immanent dome we are naturally given to being gripped with fear. And fear can cause us to doubt and be tormented such that we can’t take hold of the faith that is calling us to receive His grace, the faith of God by which His provision will come.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
“So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.“ And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:22-26
Elijah, the prophet, didn’t just say to her, “Fear not,”he gave her the reason she didn’t need to fear.
This is glorious!!!!
So he said to her,
“…Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: “The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ ” 1 Kings 17:13-14
Did you see it?
He told her to make A small cake from it for him firstthen go and make some for you and your son.
The small one for him was her act obedience to God first, to fulfill His command to sustain the prophet, then the miracle happened that kept the flour bin full of flour and the jar of oil full of oil for the duration of the drought.
What has God called you to do? Have your resources to fulfill it dried up? Does it seem like the only thing left to do is give up and live destitute and alone just waiting to die? God is saying to you to take some of the very last that you have and do what you can in faith to give something to act on God’s commandment. Then, see what he does to meet your needs and those he has given into your care.
Fear not, because God has promised to take care of you. Sparrows and lilies are not valued nearly as highly as you.
“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Luke 12:27-31
Ditch the fear and rejoice in the hope and confident expectation of God’s promises concerning you. Laugh at the liar and say to him with all boldness, “My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!” Philippians 4:19
Story #2 tomorrow