Seeing Myself in the Widow of Zarephath
Last night, I was reading a few chapters of the Bible from the Bible in a Year by the Augustine Institute. (Btw - it's awesome; you should totally try it.)
Anyway, I was reading 1 Kings 17, which tells the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Elijah meets the woman at the gate of the city and asks her to bring him food and water. She explains that she won't be able to bring him food, as she is gathering sticks to make a meal for herself and her son, and then all of their food will have run out and they will die. (Well, that's uplifting.) Elijah tells her to go do it anyway (who does this guy think he is?!) and if she does, they won't run out of food until the drought is over. Sure enough, she makes him food, and their food supply does not run out, thanks to her faithfulness.
And then a little while later, the woman's son becomes very ill, to the point of death.
Now, if I were this woman, I'd be thinking, "Hmm. The prophet who is living in my house made it so our food doesn't run out. Maybe I should go ask him for help!"
Instead, the woman responds a bit more harshly:
"And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!”" - 1 Kings 17:18
Now my first thought upon reading this was that she was coming on way too strong. This guy just saved her and her son from dying of starvation, and instead of trusting in him because of this great act, she turns on him the moment something goes wrong? Was the food miracle not enough for her to believe?
And that's when it hit me - I do the exact same thing to God.
You see, when something goes wrong in my life, I turn to God somewhat peeved. "How could you make this happen?" I question Him. "Have you abandoned me? Do you even exist? I've served you so faithfully, and this is my reward? This is why you don't have friends - because this is how you treat them!"
When things don't go my way, I get so wrapped up in my self pity and fear that I forget the three billion other miracles God has already worked in my life. I'm just like the widow of Zarephath - I instantly forget about the past and my trust is drained in the present. I think that because things aren't good right now, in this moment, that they never will be again and maybe God was just an illusion all along.
And how does God respond?
Like the best customer service agent, He simply loves. He never argues - the customer is always right, even when they're so, so wrong - but simply continues to love and comes back with a miracle that's so powerful (spoiler alert - like healing the widow's son despite her crankiness) that our faith gets a teensy bit better the next go around, and we're slightly more convinced than we were the last time.
And like a loving Father, He simply waits for that time when we finally reach our perfection in Him and never lose faith.
I'm a long way from that ideal right now. I'm a lot more like the widow than I am a saint, but each time I'm faced with a challenge, it takes a little bit longer for me to get angry with Him.
Thankfully, like the widow, God's allocation of miracles for me is not swayed by my crankiness.
For His greater glory.