Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that testing of your faith produces endurance.”
James 1: 2-3, N.R.S.V.
“Tribulation: God’s fastest road to patience, character, hope, confidence, and genuine love.”
Today’s Study Text:
“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha.”
II Kings 4: 1, N.I.V.
“Faith, like light, should always be simple, and unbending.”
What can I learn from the faith shown by the widowed mother when her husband died?
Has there been a circumstance in my life that has called forth a faith deeper and wider than I thought I could possibly have?
“In the Lord’s sight, the individual is never lost sight of in the crowd.”
Dr. Leslie Hardinge, Elisha, Man of God
“A man (or woman) cannot have faith without asking, neither can he (or she) ask it without faith.”
If you will notice, the title of today’s study is “Faithful Desperation.” I want to give credit to Dale Ralph Davis who coined this phrase in his commentary notes on II Kings 4: 1-7.
In order to better comprehend what is meant by “faithful desperation,” I pulled out Webster’s Dictionary to get a more accurate picture of what this wording is about. To be faithful means one is “reliable and worthy to be believed.” A faithful person is committed to the truth or consistently truthful. The word “desperation” or “desperate” means without hope or to despair. The dictionary goes so far as to define desperate as putting an individual in a place of last resort.
I found this last clause to accurately describe the situation of the widow who Dale Ralph Davis states was dealing with “double desperation.” He continues with these pertinent observations: “She had lost her husband by death and, as if that grief weren’t enough, she was going to lose her sons by insolvency.”
However, if the “double desperation” of “death and destitution” wasn’t enough, Davis makes a case that heaped on top of her hopeless condition was the “aggravation” that her husband and family were God’s children.
In fact, several scholars I read noted repeatedly that during the brutal and ruthless reign of the spineless Ahab and vicious Jezebel, the devilish queen confiscated the property and money of many of those who were faithful to God.
I’d like to remind us of last week’s study on the “triple threat” where the evil one aims his darts of fury at our families; our physical being; and our finances. Over and over again we see this, not only in our own lives but in the lives of others around us.
We have to look no further than our weekly prayer request list to find financial hardship, physical impairment, and family crisis – the triple threat to our forward movement. As one Old Testament theologian puts it: “Satan goes out of his way to see that good people often have a hard time. He hopes that by this treatment they will be induced to rebel against God.”
Just to give you a broader Biblical picture and more comprehensive understanding of “faithful desperation” in action, I want to share some additional thoughts from Dale Ralph Davis regarding the widow with sons that were to be essentially taken into slavery to pay the family bills:
“Note that her (the widow’s) faith simply clings, simply informs. It does not speculate. She lays the problem before him (Elisha) – she doesn’t suggest a solution or raise possible options. It was the way of Mary and Martha: ‘Lord, the one You love is sick’ (John 11: 3, NIV). No recommendations, no outline of procedures. Jesus can be trusted to know what to do – just tell Him the situation. It was the recourse of Jehoshaphat, facing an invading horde and turning to Yahweh in transparent candor: ‘We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you’ (II Chronicles 20: 12, ESV). At wit’s end and telling Yahweh about it. Insofar as this woman appeals to Elisha, Yahweh’s servant, she appeals to Yahweh; as she casts her burden on Elisha she casts it on Yahweh. And so we see a familiar combination: she is in trouble and she believes.”
I absolutely love this last phrase, “She is in trouble and she believes.” How does that statement sit with you today? Or let me put it this way, “Lisa is in trouble but she believes.” “Bill is in trouble but he believes.”
It isn’t in ourselves that we believe. For if we look at the widow, she was completely unable to solve her own problems. Instead, she went to the man of God, Elisha, who in essence was God’s representative. Elisha was a reflection of what God could do. If God could empower Elisha’s life, it was likely the widow felt that God could do for her what he had done for Elisha.
One of the things that has amazed me the most here in Transformation Garden is how many letters I’ve received from people who have read “Our Story” posted on the Transformation Garden website and have written and told me, “After reading about what you have been through and knowing that God has gotten you through all this trouble, I am willing to trust that He’ll carry me, too.” This fact brings me to some words from F. W. Krummacher in his deeply insightful volume, Elisha, where he uncovers, what to me is a very important point, when he states that the widow, “was doubtless acquainted with the wonderful event that had not very long since taken place in Zarephath. Such histories, in seasons of calamity and want, tend surprisingly to sustain our wavering faith, and to strengthen our hearts. She might have reasoned, that if the widow of Zarephath obtained relief, why should she herself be forsaken: and that Elisha would surely not be less able to work similar deliverance in the name of his God, than Elijah, with whose mantle he was now invested.”
So today I ask you, “Do you think our God is the same God who worked through the lives of Elijah and Elisha?” I do. I really do – for I’ve seen Him at work, not only in my own life, but in the lives of others who felt desperate but chose to simply believe, to simply have faith that God had the power to deliver them no matter how helpless their situation appeared.
It may well be, in this moment of “faithful desperation” which you face in your own life, that by simply believing, by trusting your Father’s love, that you will radiate a faithfulness which will encourage another despairing heart and give them hope for their journey, too. In the words of pastor and author William Gladden:
“When the anchors that faith has cast
Are dragging in the gale,
I am quietly holding fast
To the things that cannot fail…
…In the darkest night of the year,
When the stars have all gone out,
That courage is better than fear,
That faith is truer than doubt…
That somewhere, beyond the stars,
Is a Love that is better than fate;
When the night unlocks her bars
I shall see Him, and I will wait.”
Washington Gladden, (1836-1918)
“Ultimately, faith is the only key to the universe. The final meaning of human existence, and the answers to the questions on which all our happiness depends cannot be found in any other way.”
“In God’s faithfulness lies eternal security.”
Corrie ten Boom
“My faith has found a resting place,
Not in a man made creed;
I trust the ever living One,
That He for me will plead.
I need no other evidence,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died
And rose again for me.”
Lidie H. Edmunds, 1891
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.