June 5, 2016
Text: I Kings 17:17-24
Now I Know“Inquiring minds want to know”. Remember that? It was an ad for a news tabloid- implying thatsince we all want to know all the latest gossip- you should read it here. But at the end of the day-what we really want to know, what our hearts really yearn for- is that we are loved and are notalone- that everything will be okay in the end. We want to know God and know that we are His.Pray.The text from I Kings this morning begins where it left off a few months ago. It is a story oftrusting God in the face of adversity and unknowns. If you remember, there was a drought in theland, and God had sent Elijah to Zarephath- a small, out-of-the way town where God had toldhim he would find a widow who would feed him. Perhaps he dreamed of finding a woman livingin a nice house and well stocked pantry. But what he found once he got there was a poor, tiredand hungry woman collecting sticks to prepare one last meal for herself and her son – and havingdone that, they would wait to die.It would have been understandable if Elijah had turned around and left- but when it comes toGod’s promises, we should never judge God’s faithfulness by circumstances and outwardappearances, but trust in His power and faithfulness in His promises. And so Elijah asked her tobake him a cake anyway. You remember the story- despite the circumstances, she made him acake- and when she was done, she found there was still a bit of meal and oil left over. And fromthat day on- one day at a time, one cake at a time, they ate and the meal and oil did not fail untilthe famine was over. It was a miracle of God’s goodness.What a great story of encouragement- what an example of trusting and obeying in the face of allodds. The story should have been a closed book- and ended with the words: “and they livedhappily ever after”- but life goes on.It is there that we come to the beginning of today’s text. After all they had been through- her sonbecame ill and died. The mother was beside herself as you can imagine- and in her grief asked-perhaps even yelled at Elijah in frustration: “what have you against me, O man of God? Why??After trusting God all those weeks-why did this happen?? Real life emotions- real life questions.Put yourself in Elijah’s place. If a friend of yours had lost their son, and had turned to you andasked that question, what would you say? What would you do? Elijah said nothing. He simplypicked the dead boy up in his arms and took him upstairs where he laid him on the bed-and thenhe began to pray- his words and emotions pouring from a broken heart. We can almost sense thathe too was wondering: “why Lord” as he cried out to God to bring the boy back to life. Godgranted his prayer, and Elijah took the boy downstairs to his mother.
Over flowing with joy, the woman turned to Elijah and said: “Now I know- now I know that youare a man of God. Now I know that the word of the Lord in your mouth is true. She still didn’tknow why it had happened- she only knew that God was good- that God’s faithfulness hadn’tchanged and that you don’t have to know the answers to all the “why” questions before you cantrust God- and she had learned it through the help and witness of Elijah. “Now I know- that youare a man of God.”She had learned to know God through all those days and weeks during the famine. But she wasnot alone through it all. God had not only sent the widower into Elijah’s life, but God had sentElijah into the widower’s life to be her companion through that difficult time in their lives.Through his witness, experiencing those times together, she had learned what it means to trustGod in anything and everything.It has been my experience many times that when I go to minister to someone, I leave havingbeen ministered to myself. We learn from each other as we share what we have learned fromGod.One night this week, Janie and I watched a faith-based documentary centered around the eventsthat happened before, during, and after a massive tornado ripped through the town of Moore,Oklahoma on May 20, 2014 leveling homes and businesses including an elementary school,killing many.We heard their stories- stories filled with raw emotions yet tempered with a quiet trust in God. Asthey slowly began to put things back together, they began to realize what was most important-what can be replaced and what can’t. For them it was a time to step back and learn from theirexperiences and how they would live from then on. It was a time of healing and knowing Godlike they had never known him before.A pastor at the church that had been at the middle of the storm put it this way: “We are not alone-people have come together in their time of need- but more importantly- God has been with usthrough it all. Jesus knows what we are feeling and knows our loss. There is no darkness thatJesus has not walked through, no fear or loss he has not experienced. We knew that before- butnow we know on a deeper level having gone through what we went through together. They werenot shallow words- or something he had only read about, but his were words that ran deep,having been forged in the fire of adversity.In those times of life that are smooth sailing, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we knowenough of God- and as a result, we learn little. Rather, it is in those times that we cry out to Godin the middle of the night and quiet ourselves so as to hear every whisper of God’s voicespeaking to us. It is in the sufferings that we learn to know God’s love and God’s grace andGod’s power and God’s peace.Writing to the Philippians, the apostle Paul wrote: “I want to know Christ- yes, to know thepower of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
I know that all of us at one time or another have gone through similar experiences in life- timeswhen you felt like the world as you knew it had been turned upside down: financial issues,sickness of a friend or loved one or yourself; the loss of a loved one, fear of the unknown- youfill in the blank.No one wants to experience difficult times, but it is in those times that we come away saying:“now I know”. We can know that can face whatever comes our way with confidence that Jesus isLord of the wind and waves.We have all been given each moment to know of God’s saving grace and love. We have beengiven each moment to confess our sins of complacency in the easy times of life and to turn toJesus. We have been given each moment to seek God to know Him more fully and know what itmeans to confess Jesus as Lord and savior, closest friend- my rock and my salvation no matterwhat.In closing, I would like to share a prayer I came across this week. I ask that you would you and Iwould begin each day with it:Lord:In this moment, I surrender and offer you my life and give you every breath I takeIn this moment, I lay down my selfishness and pride. I want to honor You above all else.In this moment I give you praise and you alone.In this moment, I bring you an offering and bow before your throne.In this moment, I worship you.Sing song: “To know you” ?In Jesus name, Amen.