A Time for Miracles
I love reading about Elijah and Elisha, two prophets whom God used to accomplish some marvelous miracles: calling fire down from heaven, conquering enemy armies with the assistance of angelic armies, proclaiming the start and end of famines, outrunning chariots, and much more. In the midst of these mind-boggling acts of God that altered kingdoms, these two prophets also dealt with and talked to God about three mothers.
While that land writhed in a severe drought (which Elijah had announced ahead of time), God told the prophet to visit a widow whom God had commanded to feed him. He found her and asked for food. She replied that she was about to use the last of her oil and flour to make one final meal for her and her son. Elijah had the audacity to ask her to feed him first, but promised that when she did, a miracle would happen. And it did: the flour and oil never ran out – no matter how much she used – until the drought ended. Later, when this same widow’s son died, she took the boy to Elijah, and the prophet prayed and delivered the son alive back to his mother (1 Kings 17).
Fast-forward to Elisha’s time and another widow; she came to Elisha, explaining that she had no way to meet her commitments and that creditors were coming to take her two boys as slaves. Elisha told her to borrow as many big, empty jars as she could and to pour into them the oil she kept in a little jar. When she did this, the oil didn’t stop flowing until she and her sons ran out of borrowed jars. Then she sold the oil and had enough money to pay her creditors, plus extra to live off of (2 Kings 4).
The third woman was neither a widow nor in need of provision. This married woman of means prepared a private room in her home for Elisha so that he had a place to stay when he traveled. Elisha wanted to reward her kindness and tried to find out what she wanted or needed. Elisha’s servant reminded him that she was childless, so Elisha told her that she’d have a son in about a year from that time. She got pregnant, had a son, and one day while he was still young, he died. The distraught woman put her boy on the prophet’s bed without telling anyone what had happened and traveled to see the prophet. He came to her home and raised him back to life (2 Kings 4).
While Jesus ministered in his own hometown, he mentioned one of these widows to help explain why he didn’t perform any great miracle there, where everyone knew him as Joseph’s son.
Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’ “I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.” (Luke 4:23-26)
Many things get in the way of our faith. Neither the widow whom Jesus mentioned here nor the man he spoke of in his next example was an Israelite. This made the crowd so angry that they drove Jesus out of town and tried to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-30). Sometimes we get so comfortable in our Christian faith and in the way we live, that we forget God is a supernatural God who can provide for us and answer our prayers in a way far beyond our wildest expectation.
The first widow made food for Elijah before she served herself and her son, even though a few minutes earlier she had enough food only for one last meal for her own starving family. God rewarded her demonstration of faith and provided for her during the drought. She continued to feed and house Elijah, and when her son got sick and died – even though she couldn’t conceive of such a thing – her son was returned to her from the dead.
The second widow came to the prophet Elisha seeking God’s intervention. When she heard his instructions, she followed them to the letter; demonstrating her faith; and her sons not only escaped the clutches of her creditors, but she found her family abundantly provided for.
The third woman approached Elisha without need, but with a desire to help him in doing God’s work. Her service demonstrated her faith in God, and the Lord rewarded her with a son. When the son died, she lay his body on the prophet’s bed and left to tell the prophet, showing that she knew God could and would take care of her dire situation.
Did you notice that, in each of these cases, the children involved were provided for, cared for, and kept safe? In fact, each instance dealt with the concerns of a mother and her children. The children would have seen their mother’s faith and obedience at work, bringing God’s grace, power, and help into their homes.
God sent his power through these mighty men of God to change the political map, steer nations, and bring his people back to himself; but he also sent them to establish faith in and help needy families.
So where do we find a mighty prophet of God? Jesus is God’s Son, and he lives in us by his Spirit. God is our Father, and as Christians we no longer need a prophet to stand in the gap; we can go directly to him and “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Many years ago, when things got quite tight financially for our family, we opened our home to another family going through an even tighter time. The few groceries we had got divided carefully before each meal. One day we had enough hot dogs for each child to have one apiece. We prayed together and asked God to make the food we had to be enough. At the end of the meal, two hot dogs remained on the plate. One child asked for another. Her face fell when we carefully explained that we had enough for only one each. Of course, we thought her look showed disappointment, until she explained that she already had eaten two. In order to find out who went without, we rounded up all the kids and took a count. They had eaten more hot dogs than we started with – and yet two still remained on the plate!
This was no earth-shattering, life-changing kind of miracle, but my children have never forgotten it. The incident inspired both their faith and their prayer life.
The author of Hebrews wrote:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and he rewards those who earnesty seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
I love that verse. God not only insists that we believe in him, but he also requires us to believe that he rewards us when we seek him! It’s impossible to please God without faith; it’s therefore impossible for us to raise children who please God without demonstrating to them faith in action.
There are some tough times ahead with the way the economy is going but if you look to God for help and trust him, one way or another, he’ll come through and your families Faith will be strengthened. It’s a time for miracles.
Oh, and don’t worry about having enough faith to make all this work – taking the first step, just like the three mothers in the previous stories, demonstrates your faith; God will take you from there. A simple prayer over some hot dogs can get the ball rolling.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out Teaching Your Child to Pray.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)