Miraculous Provision


1 Kings 17:15,16 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

Miracles don’t happen, miracles rarely happen, miracles frequently happen, thus runs the gamut of people’s ideas. Probably for many Christians the viewpoint would be, miracles can happen but never for me. That idea is probably built on two further ideas. First, I have no need of a miracle and second, God doesn’t turn up in my life like that anyway. Well what is a miracle? It is a sovereign act of God to bring about the existence of something that didn’t previously exist, or to change something, and both things are against the course of nature.

The intriguing thing about the miracle that occurred here in today’s verses, is that God took something that already existed and kept on making it exist, even when some of it was taken away and used up. The same thing occurred when Jesus performed the miracles of the feeding of the five thousand (Mt 14:15-21) and the feeding of the four thousand (Mt 15:32 -38). There too he took a small quantity of food and made it stretch round a large number of people. The other well-known ‘provision’ miracle of Jesus was the changing of water into wine (Jn 2:1-10), this time changing something that existed into something else. Other miracles that Jesus performed that went against nature were walking on water (Mt 14:25 ), and the calming the storm (Mk 4:39). Of course all his acts of healing and raising people from the dead all come under the heading of the miraculous as well, all things that clearly went against nature. Miracles of provision where there was nothing previously were the two draughts of fish (Lk 5:4-10 & Jn 21:6).

The question has to be asked, why miracles? Well in Jesus’ case in the examples of all the healings he did, the simple answer has to be compassion and because he could do it. Those of us who struggle with miracles actually struggle with the concept of a God who is there, who created this world and therefore clearly has the power to change this world as He sees fit. It’s as simple as that. We may be frightened of miracles because they challenge our unbelief, but don’t write off miracles as impossible because you are writing off the God who the Bible proclaims from beginning to end who is all-powerful and who created the world, sustains this world, knows everything there is to know about this world and can, therefore, change this world as and when He wants! Why should He want to change it in the form of what we call miracles? Because the Bible shows Him not as some impersonal, unfeeling force in the background, but a living, feeling, benign and full of love Being who interacts with this world that He has made. Very simply God loves people and turns up and blesses them in the miraculous simply because He loves them and can do it!

In the case of Elijah God has performed this ongoing miracle for this woman as a means of providing for her and her son and for Elijah. How did God do it? Don’t be silly, you can’t explain miracles! He just speaks and things come into being. He has that power because He is God. Now the bigger question that may be in your mind is, well I don’t have a need so why should God turn up in this way for me? Why shouldn’t He? I wonder how many times in life God does things that change the course of nature or change the course of circumstances without us ever noticing. I wonder sometimes if, when we get to heaven, God will ever let us look back and see over our past lives but from His viewpoint. If He does I suspect we may be very surprised at the number of times He intervenes in the affairs of the earth on behalf of His children, us!

However, one has to agree that much of the time it seems we don’t need a miracle because most of the time most of us don’t stretch ourselves in His service where our resources need miraculously replenishing. But what about the illness or the infirmity that we seem stuck with, what about the thing that seems impossible to change? Yes, if you look around your life, it is quite possible that you will see examples of things where we tolerate the absence of provision whether it is the absence of health, or healing or whatever else. Do we not get because we do not ask? (Jas 4:2). Did Jesus not teach us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”, (Mt 6:11) i.e. please provide for me all I need to live today in your kingdom.

Elijah had put himself out on a limb in God’s service in difficult times, yet God was there for him and in this beautiful way seen in our verses today, provided for Him. The question of miracles is a real challenge to our faith. To deny the possibility is simply unbelief; let’s not try to rationalise it and explain it away, it’s unbelief! Perhaps we need to be like the father of the little boy who, when Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” responded, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief !” (Mk 9:23,24)