Life has this way of wearing down our defences. Sometimes it’s the sudden shock of some calamity or tragedy, that seems to hit us out of nowhere. But more often it’s the daily grind of life that gets to us, the challenge of walking each day carrying our baggage, and dodging the obstacles in our path. Some days it can be like a casual stroll in the sunshine, we feel free and unburdened, able to enjoy the journey. But other days we are dragging one foot in front of the other, bent over with the wind in our faces, and the rain lashing against us.
I have been feeling worn down and weary these last few weeks. The problem with living with fatigue is not so much each day being particularly bad, but that every day is the same. There is no respite from it. You could easily put up with exhaustion for one day, but once the days turn into weeks and months, you become very frustrated. And it’s easy for some of that frustration to spill over into your relationships and conversations.
These past weeks I have found myself venting some of this frustration at God. I am used to him providing just about adequate energy to get through each day. But that hasn’t always felt like enough. Some days I am longing for a bigger miracle. One that would put an end to the exhaustion once and for all, and leave me with abundant energy for life.
As I’ve been thinking about this, I was struck by a story from the life of Elijah. He had arrived in a town, weary from travelling, and meets a widow at a well. After asking her for bread she explains that she’s nearly out of both flour and oil. She was about to make one last loaf of bread for her and her son, before they die. Elijah says these words:
“Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.” 1 Kings 17:13-14
And it happens just as he promised, each day, even though they are making bread to feed Elijah, the widow and her son, the meagre supplies do not run out.
I suppose what strikes me about the story is that God did not take away their poverty and overwhelm them with His provision. He could have filled the jars to overflowing or rained down bread from heaven. But instead he kept the jar of flour and jug of oil at nearly empty. Each day Elijah, the widow and her son had to depend on God and trust that the provisions wouldn’t run out. They could be under no illusion that they didn’t need God to show up.
And I wonder how this miracle was received at the time. Was the widow able to explain what was happening? Was she believed or dismissed as a fool? I wonder if this provision was perhaps too small to be appreciated as a miracle at all by those around her. And whether even the widow, after several days of this, starting yearning for more, for a bigger sign of God’s power.
I have realised that as I have been dreaming of the miracle of overflowing jars of energy, maybe I’ve missed the smaller miracle. That perhaps in this season God is teaching me to depend on Him, and marvel at the fact that my meagre reserves have not run out. That each day I reach the end of, is the result of a smaller, more everyday, miracle of God’s provision. It is Him who keeps our supplies from running out.
Sometimes God works in a different way than we would expect. Sometimes our prayers for breakthrough are met instead with the patience to endure. Sometimes God hones our ability to trust by making us dependent on Him. The lessons we learn in the period of want and need, may be essential for the abundance to come.
I know the rain will come. That there will come a day when I have energy in abundance. But for now I will trust in the provision of my God, who knows my every need and desire. His provision and love will not run out on me.