WHEN THINGS DON’T PAN OUT: DEVILS ON BOARD

We all like to have our way. It’s a natural and normal thing that comes with being human. It’s not necessarily the best, safest, or healthiest thing for us. God has a better way. His way. But sometimes people just can’t tell us differently or convince us otherwise: our way is the best way! It’s this stubborn, inextinguishable belief that’s a huge part of the reason why we like having our way.

As you know full well by now, things don’t always go the way we planned. It’s a real downer and a source of frustration, disappointment, anger, and tears. But that’s life. And we find a way to go on.

But when things don’t pan out the way God said they would, then that becomes a really really difficult thing for me. I’m a believer. I take God at His Word. When He makes me a promise and I take Him up on that promise, I fully expect Him to do what He said He would do. And when He doesn’t, I go through a serious time of reflection and questioning. Is God’s Word true or not? Of course it is, silly! Then why didn’t it work?

I like to have answers. Sometimes, the answers are easy. Sometimes hard to fathom or digest. Sometimes there aren’t any answers. At least, not right now. Maybe down the road. Maybe never. But whether I understand the reasons or not, I’m still a believer. God expects me to continue believing Him. Continue serving Him. Continue praising Him. And since I’m a preacher, God expects me to continue preaching the Word of truth and life.

The Biblical characters were very much like you and me. They were, in fact, totally human. Just like you and me. Life didn’t always pan out for them too. How they responded and dealt with the mess they weren’t expecting  can be a compass, or a lighthouse, to get us back on track with the Lord. So, from beyond the grave, the dead speak and show us how to continue being faithful when it looks as if God isn’t.

DEVILS ON BOARD

When life falls apart on you, your dreams are shattered, and you’re living a nightmare that defies explanation or escape; at some point after you’ve cried and fussed and searched for reasons or explanations, you’ve got to settle down, have a quiet, pensive moment alone with God, and realize that devils unseen are lurking all around you.

These devils have either been allowed by God to wreak havoc on you in order to try or test you (as in Job’s case in Job chapters 1 & 2); or else they’re using the using the law of consequences (that is, the law of sowing and reaping) or God’s chastening hand on you to worsen your suffering and draw you away from God.

There are reasons why things happen. Understanding what these reasons are are sooo helpful because they help us formulate a proper response to our sufferings.

But whether we know what these reasons are or not, the one thing we’ve got to remember and be aware of is the devil’s on the loose. He’s likely perched on your shoulder, as it were. And he’s talking to you, he’s working you over, so that you get bitter and disillusioned with God, you cuss Him out, and walk away from Him.

The principle that I gleaned from John 10:10 is this: WHEREVER THERE’S TROUBLE THE DEVIL IS CLOSE AT HAND. WHENEVER THERE’S SUFFERING AND PAIN SATAN IS THERE TO INCREASE IT AND SOCK IT TO YOU 

We can look at the familiar story of Job because we know that the devil was definitely involved in that nightmare. But I’d like to look at someone else because, like a lot of us in our time of troubles and trials, the devil wasn’t readily seen. Let’s look at a widow living in Zarephath (1 Kings 17).

Now Zarephath was a small village located between Tyre and Sidon. This was Phoenician territory. The infamous Queen Jezebel was a Phoenician. So this widow was, in all likelihood, a heathen. I personally think she became a believer after Elijah was done with her, but that’s skipping ahead. Like a lot of the heathens back then, she was somewhat familiar with the God of Israel. Israel, after all, was a neighboring nation. And with all the miracles that God did for Israel through the years, just about everyone in Palestine and the surrounding areas knew a little something about the God of Might and Miracles and Mercies.

Anyways, the whole of Palestine was in the midst of a drought, no thanks to Elijah (1 Kings 17:1). It had been going on for some time now that it was to a point where people were starting to die from hunger and dehydration. The widow had a son. And she had enough flour and oil in the house left for one last meal. It would be their last meal. Then, like many others, they would succumb to death.

She was out gathering sticks for the fire when she met up with Elijah the prophet. She could tell right off that he was an Israelite and, judging by the clothes he wore, that he was a prophet. Anyways, you’ve either got to love this guy or else hate him. He asks the widow for some water. And, as she was going to get the water, he also asked her for some bread.

Now get this. There’s a severe drought and famine in the land. He’s a complete stranger. A foreigner. He comes to a lady and asks her for water and food. As if she had enough water and food to share with strangers! What’s even more astounding is, she tells him she’s only got enough food for one last meal for her son and herself, then they’d be completely out and dead. Yet, in spite of knowing her desperate situation, Elijah still insists that she make him food and that she make it for him first, or serve him first: her son and she could have whatever he didn’t eat. How audacious, selfish, and insensitive is that?

Remarkably, and to her credit, she obeys the prophet. Imagine what faith she must have had to share her last meal with a complete stranger. If I was her, it’d have been awfully hard to share. Maybe if there was enough to share, yes. Maybe if there weren’t any children to feed, yes. But when we’re talking about a pittance and a stranger, sharing or caring just isn’t something that comes naturally. You don’t even think about it. But the woman complies with the prophet’s request.

And to her blessed surprise, the prophet miraculously multiplies her flour and oil so that, for the remainder of the famine and drought, the widow and her son ate rather well. They never ran out. They always had food to eat! Suddenly, to her blessed relief, her worries are gone. Life looked bright once again.

Now comes the part when life falls apart on this widow. Her son gets sick. He gets sicker by the day. And eventually he dies. You’d have to wonder what the prophet was doing all that time that the boy was sick. All indications are that he lived with them. He did a miracle with the flour and oil. Couldn’t he have done a miracle and saved the boy’s life?

Anyways, the boy dies. I’d like for you to look at the woman’s response to her unbearable tragedy. In 1 Kings 17:18 she went up to the prophet and asked in tears, if not in rage, What do you have against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to remind God of my sin and cause the death of my son?  In the widow’s mind, Elijah’s presence caused God to remember her sin; whatever that sin was, it must have been awful and condemning enough to gnaw at her soul; and, as a result of His remembrance, God killed the boy as a punishment for her sin. As she saw it, Elijah was directly responsible for her son’s death.

Now get this. Before meeting up with the prophet this widow and her son were as good as dead. They had only enough food for one meal, then it was curtains for them. The prophet showed up and, miraculously, the woman and her son had food enough to last them through the famine. They lived! They didn’t hunger for the duration of the famine. The widow knew this miracle of provision was an act of God. God did this for her because the prophet was a man of God. And God, being the world-renowned God of Might and Miracles and Mercies, did a wondrous, life-saving miracle for her. God showed her just how loving, gracious, merciful, and kind He is. He cared for her and her son. And He took them of them.

If God wanted to punish this widow for her sin He could have done it a long time ago. Yeah, God doesn’t always punish sin right away. But why would God give her and her son a life-saving miracle if He wanted to kill them? He wouldn’t have needed to do anything to kill them: the famine would have done that for Him. But God intervened through the prophet and saved this widow alive because He loved her and cared for her. The widow had to have known this and, if she was like some of us, she would have gone to bed every night thanking her lucky stars that they all had food to eat for that day.

The widow, I’m saying, lived every day with a miracle from God. And now, when her worst nightmare came true, she blamed God and the prophet for her terrible misfortune and unbearable loss. Does this sound like logical thinking to you? It shouldn’t. It’s a loony way of looking at the terrible things that have happened to you. God wouldn’t have saved you only to kill you. He wouldn’t have been gracious and kind, only to strike you down. That’s not how God works. And the proof of it is, God raised the dead boy back to life again (1 Kings 17:21-22). He proved to the widow, once again, that He was the God of Might and Miracles and Mercies. He corrected her mistaken theology.

So what am I saying in all this? I’m saying that even though the devil is nowhere mentioned or seen in this account, he was every bit present, working, and talking to this woman, convincing her that her son’s sickness and death was her fault; God was punishing her for her sins; God wasn’t merciful, forgiving, or forgetting; God was out to kill her and the love of her life; God was against her.

Beloved brethren, the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). When that kind of stuff is going on in your life, quit blaming God. It isn’t God who’s doing that to you. It’s the devil. You don’t see him. But he’s there with you, whispering to you, and getting you to think and say loony things so that you’ll blame God, hate Him, and turn your back on Him.

When life becomes a nightmare you need a miracle from God. Turn to Him. God’s gracious, forgiving, and kind. He’s a God of Might and Miracles and Mercies. He loves you. And He’s willing to prove it to you once again. In fact, GOD NEVER TIRES OF PROVING HIS LOVE FOR YOU! HE LOVES TO PROVE TO YOU THAT HE LOVES YOU! Don’t turn your back on God! Turn around! And watch a miracle happen!

1 Comment

  1. Brenda said,

    October 14, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    What a blessed perspective on the trials/negative circumstances of life.
    Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: