Ahab was one wicked king! So evil, in fact, that the Scripture says that Ahab "did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him" (I Kings 16:33). He was one dark king!
Scene One: God sent the prophet Elijah to confront King Ahab and to declare that no rain would fall on the land until the Lord God gave the word. Judgment had come for a thousand wicked deeds! Then God instructed the prophet to get away from there and hide by the Brook Cherith. He (God) would take care of him via ravens that would feed him bread and meat morning and evening, and Elijah could drink water from the brook. Elijah, the prophet, obeyed God.
However, "some time later the brook dried up" because of the drought in the land (I Kings 17:7). The brook dried up! God had sent him to the brook. Elijah was living in obedience. The miracle of the ravens was happening. But the brook dried up.
Truth One: Obeying God doesn't mean the brook won't dry up. Did it mean Elijah had sinned? That he was out of God's will? That God was displeased with him? No, no, and no! It meant that God had another place for him. Another plan.
It even meant that Elijah was to put his trust in God, not the brook. What do we do when the brook dries up?
Scene Two: God instructed the prophet to walk 100 miles north to a city named Zarephath. There he would find a widow who would provide for him. Again, Elijah obeyed God, walked the long road, and found the widow near the gate of the city gathering sticks. She was down to her last bit of flour and oil, so the decision had been made to gather sticks, make a fire, bake a little loaf of bread for her young son and herself, "eat it-and die" (17:12).
The end had come for the widow and her son. Elijah said that if she would bake that bread for the prophet, God would take care of her by causing the flour and the oil not to be used up "until the day the Lord gives rain on the land" (17:14). The widow obeyed. The miracle happened. The flour and oil did not run out! And Elijah had a place to stay...in the widow's home.
Truth Two: When Cherith dries up, God prepares a Zarephath. Can't you see it? The widow and her son had food to eat, they did not die of starvation, Elijah had a room and bed, and the prophet had someone to talk to! He even had a little boy to tease! After some time, I can hear the prophet say to the widow, "The best thing that happened to me was when the brook dried up!"
My friend, God will do that for you. God is bigger than the dry brook, the lost job, the deep disappointment, the wounded spirit. God knows about a place called "Zarephath." If you follow, He will get you there.
Scene Three: In the midst of these miracles the widow's son took sick and died. He died! The widow was beside herself with grief. She blamed the prophet. She blamed God. This was too much.
Truth Three: Great blessings are usually followed by great testings. This was not just a tragic drama for the widow, it has happened repeatedly to me. To you. To about everyone I know. After a wonderful answer to prayer comes a serious testing.
What do you do when "the fantastic" runs out? When the dark clouds roll in? When the heaviness settles down on your soul? When your "pride and joy" dies? Do you quit? Murmur? Run? Lose hope? Get bitter? Curse God and die? No! There is another scene in this drama.
Scene Four: Elijah took the little boy up to his room and laid him on his bed. He prayed earnestly to the Lord God three times. Thrice he cried out, "O LORD my God, let this boy's life return to him" (1 Kings 17:21)! God heard and answered this prayer. Breath was given back to the little lad. It was a miracle of resurrection! The grieving widow and her living son were reunited. There was rejoicing. There was a celebration. A miracle had happened. What a turn of events!
Truth Four: God is greater than _____________. You fill in the blank. God was greater than Ahab. Greater than the brook. Greater than the dead boy. Greater than anything . . . anyone! That's the truth I need to hear. You need to hear it, too. I do not know what is happening in the circle of your life, but I know that God is greater. Go ahead and write it out: "God is greater than____________," and you fill in the blank.
Whatever it is, whoever it is, does not matter. God is greater! Today I dare to believe . . . and trust . . . God! I will fill in the blank. Please join me and do the same. God is greater!
James H. Diehl is a general superintendent emeritus in the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, March/April 2008