Devotional Week 9, 2020 Thursday
Week 9 Thursday
February 27, 2020
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Psalm 91: 11
“Count no duty too little, no round of life too small, no work too low, if it come in thy way, since God thinks so much of it as to send His angels to guard thee in it.”
Mark Guy Pearse
Today’s Study Text:
“Later on the woman’s son became sick. The sickness took a turn for the worse -- and then he stopped breathing. The woman said to Elijah, ‘Why did you ever show up here in the first place -- holy man barging in.”
1 Kings 17: 17 - 19
The Message Bible
“The Test of the Home-Life Part 3
Definition of Consolation: To comfort, to strengthen, to provide solace.
“How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fears!”
John Newton, Pastor
Has there been a time in my life when I needed to be consoled?
How can I pass on to others the heavenly consolation which I have received?
“When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
Psalm 94: 19
“Lord Christ, give me some of Your Spirit to comfort the places in my heart where I hurt…Then give me some more of Your Spirit so that I can comfort other people.”
It is one of those times in the Bible when you begin studying about an individual’s experience and you say to yourself, “What is going on here? How can a person have to bear so much trouble?”
First, the poor widow woman, when we initially met her, was gathering fire wood to cook, what she believed, was the very last meal for her son and herself. Then, to add to that burden, a stranger entered her world who wanted the meal she was cooking to allay his own hunger -- even before she fed her own child.
But, something miraculous happened. The meal and oil, needed to provide sustenance for this family of three, did not run out. God caringly provided what was needed on a daily basis. What a wonderful gift -- a surprise for the widowed mother. Frankly, if I had been in her shoes, this is when I would have felt like I could take a breath -- for things in the Zarephath home-life seemed to be humming along quite nicely.
Possibly, this same type of situation has happened to you. There was a traumatic event that struck your life -- but God got you through it, no doubt about it! After awhile, you felt that things were going well, especially in comparison to the upheaval you had experienced. Things in your life were running smoothly. But then, as out of nowhere, tragedy struck. Trouble blew in like a tornado, leaving everything shattered. Without a moment to even prepare, you found your world so torn apart you were inconsolable. Grief-stricken and alone you cried out, “God, what have You done to me now?” Or very possibly, you did what the widow of Zarephath did, you lashed out at the person or people whose arrival seemed to coincide with all the trouble that was dropped in your lap.
This is what happened in the Zarephath home-life and maybe it has happened in your home, too. This is part of the reason therapists have found that when parents lose a child, the stress on the marriage can prove devastating.
In the case of the widow, she took her pain out on the one closest to her -- something which is easy to do in all our lives. And it was the prophet Elijah who became her verbal punching bag. In a fit of grief she blurted out, “What in the world do you have against me, O man of God?” If I had been in her shoes, I believe I would have added, “I opened my home to you, I fed you, I treated you better than your own countrymen who have a bounty on your head. And what thanks do I get? My child, my only son, dies! What kind of person are you? And furthermore, what is your God really like?”
Now I want to stop here to look at the way Elijah responded. Tomorrow, we’ll actually look at the continuation of this conversation for the grief-stricken mother had more to say about Elijah, about Elijah’s God and about the characteristics she felt God was exhibiting.
Today, I want to take a moment to explore the way Elijah acted when he was verbally attacked by a widow whose heart was overflowing with pain.
The great Scottish teacher, author and hymn-writer, George Matheson, in one of his tremendous biographical portrayals called Portraits of Bible Men, makes this comment, directed especially toward Old Testament prophets who were mostly men of a solitary lot: “The man who habitually lives on the mountains is apt to find himself not at home on the plains. He often shows to less advantage in commonplace things than the essentially commonplace man.” The point George Matheson was making was that individuals like Elijah, who apparently lived alone in Gilead and at the Brook Cherith, were not prepared as well for the variety of daily life foisted upon you in a place like Zarephath where you are dropped into the well-set habits of another families’ home-life. So understandably, this situation could present many challenges.
I found the way F. W. Krummacher describes the unfolding events surrounding the death of the widow’s son to be extremely enlightening:
“Unexpectedly, in the midst of cheering blessings, a heavy cloud darkened the peaceful cottage. Alas! The widow’s son, her only child, doubly dear to her in consequence of his wonderful preservation from imminent death by famine, ‘fell sick.’ The sickness increased every hour, and the distress of the poor mother was extreme; but her tears prevailed not. Her delight and hope, the dearest object she had on earth, lay extended in the arms of death. How hard! How severe, according to outward appearance.”
How many times in your life or the lives of those you love has some unexpected event turned your world upside down? And with emotions running, as it were, on the edge of a sharp knife, it can be the thoughtless words, the uncaring response or the unfeeling attacks that rip off the veneer which has covered the devastation of life-long heartache. And then, as happened in a moment of severe grief, the widow’s hurt came flooding over her like a tsunami. A husband dead -- a child dead -- a life alone. Who can blame this precious woman for finally reaching a point where she exploded. Thank God, His prophet Elijah, who had lived a solitary life, exhibited the kind of behavior only present in one who is imbued thoroughly with the heavenly Spirit of humility. At this time of tense emotional confrontation in the home, Elijah poured the balm of consolation -- the healing salve of comfort -- on the open wound.
Author Colette Lafia shares some beautiful thoughts on the ways each of us can share the gift of consolation with those whose lives we touch:
“So how do we give comfort within the daily demands of our lives? In simple and practical ways. We share what we have to give. We offer a kind word, a smile, a hug, a caring heart, and an open ear. We can share comfort in very immediate ways -- as we stop and listen to another person, read a book with a child, take a moment to call an elderly parent, laugh with a friend, give a sandwich to someone sitting on a corner, or donate a coat to help keep someone warm. Bringing comfort into the world is about paying attention to how and where comfort is calling us…Simple actions. Wide ripples. Deep resonance.”
Elijah brought the gift of consolation -- comfort -- into the Zarephath cottage, and in doing so, he brought glory to the name of his Father in heaven. In the words of John Henry Jowett, “God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”
“Ah, many-voiced and angry! How the waves
Beat turbulent with terrible uproar!
Is there no rest from tossing, -- no repose?
Where shall we find a haven and a shore?...
…Rocks on all sides, and breakers! at the helm
Weak human hand and weary human eyes.
The shout and clamor of our dreary strife
Goes up conflicting to the angry skies.
But for all this, O timid hearts, be strong;
Be of good cheer, for, though the storm must be,
It hath its Master: from the depths shall rise
New heavens, new earth, where shall be no more sea.
No sea, no tossing, no unrestful storm!
Forever past the anguish and the strife;
The poor old weary earth shall bloom again,
With the bright foliage of that better life.
And war, and strife, and hatred, shall be past,
And misery a forgotten dream.
The shepherd God shall lead His peaceful fold
By the calm meadows and quiet stream.
Be still, be still, and know that He is God;
Be calm, be trustful; work, and watch, and pray,
Till from the throes of this last anguish rise
The light and gladness of that better day.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
The Women Who Met Jesus
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