Monday, May 27, 2019

1 Kings 17:8-9 -- On Prophecies and Patterns

"And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee."
1 Kings 17:8-9

This is part of a story about Elijah, and the stories of when he was staying with the widow woman are interesting, but I chose these verses because the lead up to the story is interesting as well.  Elijah had prophesied a drought, and first God sent him to stay beside a river, and he had crows feed him, and here, after the water dries up, he sends him to a widow's house to have her take care of him... which she had no more natural power to do than the crows, really... she was on the edge of starvation herself.

I think it is instructive to ask ourselves why God solved problems in a particular way.  After all, God has a practically infinite amount of ways that he can solve problems.  So why this way?  What do the crows and the widow woman teach us, or what did they teach Elijah?  What was God trying to accomplish?

In this story as in probably all others, I don't think that there is just one reason for any of it.  God was definitely trying to teach Elijah/us to rely on the Lord, showing that he can accomplish his purposes  in unexpected and miraculous ways.  I also think that this wasn't just a miracle for Elijah, but a huge miracle for the widow as well.  What a blessing, to send the prophet to stay with her and to keep her family alive.  But it wasn't just for her, or for Elijah, it was also for us too, to build our faith, or to provide an inspiration for solutions in our own lives.

The verse makes it simple... Elijah was clearly told that the widow woman would sustain him, but the actual way that the world/universe/God's will works is much more complex, because God is weaving a tapestry of blessings and help all around us, not just answering individual prayers.  That's why we're commanded to get out there and do unto others in a good way too, so we can be part of "all things" working together for good (Romans 8:28, D&C 98:3).  We are blessings to each other, and sometimes one person's trial becomes another's blessing, for instance when we miss a flight, it might be a blessing opening up a seat for someone else.  We don't always know when things like that happen, but it's all connected and working together, and God can see how everything connects and tweak the pattern for our good.

Today, let's trust God and his network of interlaced blessings, and be willing to be a part of it, helping others even as we are helped.  When we're commanded to go to our own version of Zarephath, let's remember that it isn't just about us, but about how everything fits together, and it is okay if things don't work out as we expected or wanted... God is in control, and things will turn out okay in the end.

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