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The Faith of Elijah and the Widow

(1 Kings 17:1-16)

Lesson 2 -- third quarter 2001
June 10, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Does faith in God involve risk?

Faith in God involves no risk. None at all.

Sure, we can say that we have so much faith in God that we willingly take the chance that He might finally fail for the first time. But because of Who God is, that is neither risk nor chance.

However, faith in God often involves the appearance or sensation of risk. And we must acknowledge that, as humans, appearance and sensation often affect us just as strongly as reality. That means that even though faith is God is not risky, if it feels risky we can get unnerved. From that angle, consider three dimensions to the "riskiness" of faith.

Safety. Elijah went to Ahab with a very negative message. In those days especially, taking a bad message to a king was risky business indeed. But Elijah's faith in God carried him forward despite the risk to his safety. When God directs you to serve Him in a "risky" way, first make sure it is His voice, then move ahead despite the apparent risk. Remember: It is OK to experience some fear; it is never OK to experience some disobedience.

Credibility. In today's lesson text alone, Elijah seems to put his credibility on the line twice: "No dew; no rain; till I say so" and "Enough meal; sufficient oil; till the crisis is past." Imagine having that kind of faith in God! What a chance to take, eh? Not really, but it wouldn't surprise me if it felt that way to Elijah, at least at times. Make sure your faith in God has the depth to stand firmly for Him and His ways even when being wrong would mean a loss of credibility. Can you think of any practical examples of taking such a "risk" for God?

Provision. God expects us to provide for ourselves as well as we can, but times come when we get to the end of our resources. Then we may need to decide between exercising faith in God or compromising some of our convictions. For example, if I don't take a temporary job in a business that sells cigarettes, will I earn enough to provide for my family? We need to remember that God has more options than we have or will ever know. I wonder if Elijah fretted at the possibility that those hungry ravens would eat his food or that starving widow would decide to use the last little bit of meal and oil for her child and herself.

Where is your faith?

We have lots of places to place our faith . . . .

In the visible. Being physical creatures, we naturally trust what we can see or otherwise sense with our physical faculties. It has taken me quite a while to trust this computer to hold all the invisible information I put into it. Even so, I'm not yet totally weaned from the urge to have hard copies of that information. In the same way, plenty of times it seems I could trust God better if I could just see Him.

In the sensible. Being creatures of reason, we instinctively trust the sensible. I mean, it only make sense, right?! Of course. So until someone proved the sensibility and rationality of a metal ship floating, I doubt most people thought it smart to even believe such a thing could be. And what about the idea that the sun doesn't rise and set at all? And to expect scavenger birds not to eat the lunch would surely qualify Elijah for something other than an intelligence award.

In the Almighty. Being creatures, we should trust the Creator without any qualms. Though we cannot perceive Him with our physical senses, He is still "visible" to our spirits. Reality is, to not trust Him is really quite irrational.

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