Love Thy Neighbour
Two weeks ago, I shared about Rahab and what we can learn from her during the uncertain times we’re facing today. Rahab’s salvation was pretty miraculous.
There are times that warrant for the out-of-ordinary stories of God’s salvation in our lives. This week however, I want to share about the seemingly unimpressive side of God’s provision. I want us to look at the story of Elijah and a widow in order for us to see that God always finds a way to provide for us, even in the driest seasons of our lives.
I believe that this story is a picture of what the church needs to look like. At the end of this article, you will identify with one of these characters and I hope that you will begin to see the providing hand of God in the simplicity of everyday life.
Elijah had just prophesied that in the years to come, there would be no rain in the land except at his word. Thereafter, the Lord instructed him to take shelter near a stream that would provide him with water for the days to come. The Lord also sent ravens to give him bread and meat both in the morning and in the evening.
This is the part of the story we all like.
To put this in a modern-day context, this is where you go against the grind and take a step of faith. You quit your job and start your own business, or you leave the security of a nine-to-five job and become a freelancer doing that thing God has been nudging you to do for years. He tells you that He will take care of you. He provides for you in ways you could not have imagined and opens doors you would not have been able to open for yourself. Because He has been so consistent in providing for you, you testify of His faithfulness. You encourage others that God will take care of their needs; all they have to do is be obedient.
You are living your best life eating and drinking from a seemingly unending supply of God’s provision.
Then Covid-19 strikes. You are instructed to stay home, and this separates you from the place that was once a symbol of God’s provision. And just like that, what used to represent God’s faithfulness is now a cause for great concern in your life.
The stream where God had told Elijah to take refuge was beginning to dry up. Can you imagine the harsh reality of watching your resources dwindle, day by day, without any assurance that they will be replenished?
This may not be you, but there are so many people in our communities who feel this way. Their resources are drying out. The streams they had been testifying about have become barren and can longer sustain them.
God later told Elijah to go live in a town called Zarephath, where He had instructed a widow to feed him. This part of the story makes me emotional, because even though it was by less dramatic and impressive means, the Lord continued to provide for him in the middle of a very dry season of his life.
God provides through people.
Could it be that when all else fails, like it did for Elijah, our fellow brothers and sisters are meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus for us? Could it also be, that just like the widow who fed Elijah, God is nudging us to share the little that we have with the people He has put in our communities?
The truth is, many of us are not going to come out of this crisis unscathed. We have no strength within ourselves to save the failing economic systems that are bringing our society to its knees. This isn’t the type of happy-ending story our world has taught us we deserve.
We are all facing some sort of uncertainty for tomorrow, but what is certain is that God will always require us to love our neighbour... just as Jesus loved us.
Here are a few verses for us to think about: “For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink… when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” Matt 25: 42-45
The Bible continues to say in 1 John 3 verse 17 that if we have more than what we need and we choose not to help our neighbour who has nothing, how can the love of God be in us?
If you read the story of Elijah and the widow, you will see that the widow had very little food, but she chose to share the little that she had. When she did this, the Lord refilled the jars of oil and flour so that she would have food for the next day.
This feels similar to the story of the young boy who gave Jesus five loaves of bread and two fish when what they really needed was enough food to feed five thousand people. What the boy gave was not much, but the Lord multiplied one person’s offering to save thousands.
Maybe you are the Elijah in this story, someone who has fallen through the cracks of our man-made financial structures and are in need of help. Maybe you are the widow, someone who doesn’t have much to share but is required to do so anyway. Maybe in all of this, in the mundane of us being there for one another, God will continue to provide mutually for those of us who give and those of us who receive.
For those of us who have, whether is it a little or a lot, let us give generously and unbegrudgingly. For those of us that don’t have, let us receive with thanksgiving – knowing that God’s provision is evident in the simplicity of us loving one another.