The year 2022 has been a very difficult one for many and it hasn’t even ended yet. The year began with global concern as Russian forces massed the Ukrainian border. On February 24th, the Russians began what they referred to as ‘special military operation’ by attacking several Ukrainian cities including the capital city Kyiv. It initially looked like it would be a quick battle with the Russians swiftly taking major cities like Kherson but eight months later, the war rages on.
The global effect of the war in Ukraine has been the sky rocketing of energy prices which has fuelled inflation in several countries, thereby causing untold hardship to many who before now, were barely able to make ends meet. According to the Russel Trust, food banks between April 2021 and March 2022 increased by 14% compared to the previous year.
The war in Ukraine is not the only event that has affected the lives of many. Storms, earthquakes and flooding have occurred in different parts of the world resulting in the loss of lives and property. The bottom line is that things are harder for many this year than it has ever been and unfortunately, there is no indication that it will get better anytime soon.
As Christians, how do we react to these issues which are clearly beyond our control? I usually like drawing parallels between stories in the Bible and what we are experiencing today, in order to gain a scriptural perspective on the issues we face. This is because there is nothing we are going through today that has never been experienced before. It’s not so much about modern technology or systems but rather how people reacted to adversity and how God responded to the needs of those who called upon Him.
One story that comes to my mind is found in 1 Kings 17. God had given Elijah a message that there would be famine in Israel for the next few years. Note that even when God pronounced judgement on Israel, He also made arrangements for His servants to be provided for. He sent Elijah to Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan where there was a brook of water flowing, providing Elijah with water to drink. Not only did he have water to drink, God also sent him food by courier using Ravens. Now, how awesome is that?
That provision was however temporary because God had another plan. When the brook dried up, God told Elijah to head for Zarephath, to a widow who would provide him with food. Imagine Elijah getting there only to be told, there was only enough food for the widow and her only son. Did that deter Elijah? No, it didn’t. He told her to make some cake for him first and then make something out of the rest for herself and her son. He however followed this request with a promise, “For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says; ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land’”. The widow promptly did as Elijah requested and true to the word of the prophet, there was a miraculous supply of food in that house.
Life was now good for the widow and her son. They were no longer concerned with the famine. Before she met the prophet, she thought she was going to prepare the last meal for herself and her son but she trusted the word of the Prophet and ended up having a continuous supply of food.
The story does not end there however. Not long afterwards, the widow’s son grew ill and finally died. Elijah was still living with them so I am sure he must have known the child was ill and probably even helped nurse him. When the son died however, the woman in her grief turned on Elijah. She forgot the miracle of the food supply. She didn’t think that the God who miraculously replenished the jar of flour and the jug of oil every day was able to bring her son back to life. Elijah took the child from her, prayed over the child and God restored life back to him. I can imagine the joy the mother must have felt when Elijah came back with the child alive and well.
So what lesson do we learn from this story? First, Elijah knew the God he served. He had experienced God’s miraculous provision before and He knew God could do it again. Although the widow was initially skeptical about making a cake for Elijah, she still obeyed and what was promised came to pass. When adversity came knocking, the widow was so focused on what was happening, that she forgot in the God who works miracles. She was reminded of who God is and what He can do, when Elijah prayed over the child and brought the child back to her alive and well.
God is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) The same one who fed the widow is still in the business of supplying the needs of those who trust Him today. Adversity is a reality in the world we live in but God is able to work miracles in the midst of adversity. He does not always work in the same way but He works anyway for the benefit of His people and for the glory of His name.
Are you facing life’s challenges today? Go to God. Be honest with Him. Let Him know how you feel and surrender it all to Him. You can be sure that He will respond and will provide for you in ways beyond your imagination.