On a holiday when so many (including myself) give thanks for being blessed with so much, it’s hard not to think of those who have little or nothing at all, or those who are not able to celebrate because the pain from loss, loneliness or bitterness is too great.
But God provides in the dry, dark seasons too. In fact, he provides especially in these times.
In 1 Kings 19 we read about the prophet Elijah in one of these seasons. He is running for his life from the unrepentant, idolatrous king and queen of Israel. Elijah flees into the wilderness, afraid for his life, plants himself under a tree and lays down to die. “It is enough!” he says. “Now Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
Elijah is disappointed, depressed and alone. But God does not grant his wish. God does not even scold him. God sends rest and food. As Elijah sleeps, twice an angel of God cooks him meals and brings him water. The angel tells Elijah to eat and drink because the journey ahead is “too great” for him alone. God provided supernaturally for Elijah’s physical needs. The food and rest fueled Elijah’s 40-day wandering journey to Mount Sinai.
This is a wonderful foreshadowing of the true bread and water that was to come. Jesus said “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” Jesus promises rivers of “living water,” the Holy Spirit, to sustain and flow through those who believe in him. This is nourishment that all children of God need because, just like Elijah, the journey is too great for us.
Once on Mount Sinai, the Lord showed Elijah a terrible wind, an earthquake and fire. He showed him outward signs of Elijah’s inward turmoil, but then he comforted and humbled him when He spoke to him in a “voice of quiet stillness.”
God had provided for Elijah’s physical needs in the wilderness so he could provide for his greater need – spiritual clarity and purpose.“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Whatever our current state, material or existential, we’re all in the wilderness in one form or another. I’m thankful for a God who provides there. I’m thankful for a creator who not only sustains our lives, but also gives comfort, restoration, encouragement and abundant life through his word.