1 Kings 17:7–11 (NIV)
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
Elijah is having a real Monday here in the Karith Ravine.
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.
So God sent him to the ravine to drink from the brook and the brook dried up. Here’s another interesting feature of the word ravine. Ravine comes from a French word which means a violent rush of water. It seems a far cry from a dried up brook. This Karith Ravine is like a river bed with no river. Remembering our last journey, it seems a far cry from our declaration concerning Ezekiel’s river: Everywhere the river flows everything will live. (see Ezekiel 47).
Isn’t that the nature of this life—one season the river is flooding its banks and the next it’s a dried up ravine? There is a deep lesson to be discerned from this. Paul shows us the shape of it when he says,
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12–13)
This is the way—from glory to glory—from the rushing river to the dried up ravine.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
I appreciate the shift in translation here. This verse has typically been rendered to say, “I can do all things.” This enabled the text to be hitched up to all manner of personal success and prosperity agendas. Jesus is not interested in helping us do “all things.” He is interested in us becoming the kind of people who can do “all this.” “All this,” of course, means learning to flourish in doing the will of God regardless of external circumstances.
This is the way—from glory to glory—whereby we become weaned off of all other inferior sources of strength, ranging from ego strength to substance abuse. Great souls are only forged in the fires of hardship, struggle, and suffering. And here’s the bottom line: hardship, struggle, and suffering will come to everyone at one time or another in life. How you handle them determines who you become. Will we navigate them “through him who gives me strength,” or through other sources that give us strength that turns out not to be strength at all? Remember this. What got you here won’t get you there.
Keep in mind, we are not looking at a day in the life of Elijah here. This is more than a bad Monday. We are looking at a span of years. This drought went on for three years. More than that, however, we are looking at a complex movement of the delivering judgment and mercy of almighty God for an entire nation. Though one would never imagine it if they dropped in on this Monday, Elijah is playing a key part in this unfolding drama. And it must seem very discouraging to him to wake up to a dried up brook. There is, though, a bit of good news.
Then the word of the Lord came to him:
If you can call this good news:
“Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”
He must have thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” First ravens. Now a widow! What is this? Elijah does not know where this is headed. He does not know the end result. He does not know the bigger plan. He only knows the next step. Most importantly, he knows God and he has learned to hear God’s voice. That’s what we are after, knowing Jesus more and learning to hear his voice.
This is the way—from glory to glory.
Abba Father, we are weary of building the strengths that are not really strength. We are weary of self reliance. We are also weary of a cynical stoicism that just grits our teeth and bears it. We want the deep contentment of soul no matter the circumstances. It is the dried up brook on Monday morning and the presentation of a widow as the solution that puzzles us. Holy Spirit, train our spirits to lean in anyway, to just do it, because we have already said yes to you. We thank you for this wilderness training even though we didn’t really sign up for it. And we trust the bigger plan and how you are making us part of something we cannot yet even comprehend. Praying in Jesus’ name, amen.
How are you interpreting your circumstances at this point in your life? How are you dealing with them? Are you running out of the old strength? How are you learning to hear from Jesus?
For the Awakening,