There’s something about tough times that really brings out the best and the worst in us. Our true character shines (for better or for worse) in the midst of suffering…but so does God’s. When we choose to trust the Lord in the midst of the messiness of life, He does His most cherished work. We will see this on display as we watch how God works through Elijah in the life of the widow of Zarephath. And the great news for us is, then and now, God is and always has been in the miracle business!
1. Trust is exercised through generosity.
1 Kings 17:8-16
- A lot of us have experienced violated trust and the havoc it wreaks on our lives. When trust is violated, it is tempting to withdraw, to take care of ourselves and our own. As followers of Jesus, we have been called higher.
- Trusting in the Lord is an essential part of following Jesus. Trusting in God is the settledness we feel when we are confident in who God is no matter what is going on around us.
- The widow of Zarephath had two choices: to act out of self-preservation or act out of trust God’s provision. She chose to trust and was moved to self-sacrificial generosity.
- This woman gave her last potion of food to Elijah, and as a result, she got to see the miraculous provision of a generous God. Generosity leads to an awareness of abundance.
Describe a situation where you were faced with a choice like the widow in this story: to trust God or to act on behalf of your own self-preservation. What did you choose? How would you handle that situation today?
2. Tragedy challenges our trust.
1 Kings 17:8-16
- When we strive with other people, we often find that our trust in them is broken. However, when we experience loss, it is our trust in God that is challenged. This woman had lost her husband, her income, and her source of provision for herself and her child. In the face of such loss, we see an incredible example of unshakeable trust.
- God is still trustworthy even in tragedy. Those of us who have walked through seasons of loss, suffering, and tragedy can attest that regardless of what our feelings might tell us, God is present.
- Our seasons of loss and suffering become an amazing opportunity for the miraculous. When we are able to trust God in the midst of these seasons, we will find that our trust deepens. As we declare our God to be trustworthy, he will continually show himself to be just that.
What is one tragedy you’ve walked through (or are walking through right now) that challenged your trust in God? How are you doing at trusting God in your life presently?
3. God can raise the dead.
1 Kings 17:17-24
- God raises the son of the widow who fed Elijah. There is an anguish in the words of this mother, as well as in Elijah’s outcry to God. Our grief and anguish does not cancel out our trust in God. Rather, it ought to drive us to him, as it did for this mother and this prophet.
- God can work immediately, but very often, he doesn’t. The delayed response from God did not deter Elijah. He continued to seek God in the pursuit of seeing the dead raised to life. Elijah had to persevere in prayer before God would do a work of resurrection.
- We have the advantage of having read the rest of the story. We are aware of the incredible resurrection work our God is capable of.
- The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate reason to trust God. If God can conquer sin and death, God can work through any situation we encounter in life. He wants to restore and resurrect in his power and for his glory.
What is one situation where you have struggled to persevere in prayer because it looks like nothing is changing? Through that situation, how is God working on your character and trust? What would it take for you to start praying once more for that situation?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?