Nov 4, 2008, 6:02 AM
A lot of people are going through pain, difficult times, emotional stress and hurt and do not know where to turn.
The economic meltdown has dealt a severe blow on their meagre finances and their resolve to carry on. You can literally read the expression on the faces of many: ‘I need help.’ What should you do under the circumstances when as the Wollof proverb puts it ‘their beards got burnt together’ meaning we are all suffering from the same ailment.
It becomes pretty grim when your survival is from your ‘hand to mouth.’ Anything you earn goes to the family’s cooking pot. There is not enough money to pay the rent, electricity and water bills. The situation is desperate. Your close relatives cannot help. You do not figure among those who receive monthly remittances from their offspring overseas to appease the situation. Matters get worse by the day. Several appeals for help have fallen on deaf ears; little fruit has been the outcome. You are tired of knocking on people’s doors. What do you do? Wait for your rendez-vous with death? No!
You may need to pray harder. You may even have to cease trying to resolve your problems in the first instance. Because we begin to worry and fret we end up compounding the situation further. You have tried everything there is, now try God. Mortal man can offer only temporary assistance whilst you are looking for a lasting solution to your problem. God is not unaware of your condition; he takes in every detail because he is All-knowing and is Ever-present. Jesus teaches that he knows even the minute details of our lives to the extent that a sparrow cannot fall to the ground and die without his knowledge. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” (Matthew 10:29) He promises to take care of our needs because he is the Great Provider. But where has he been all this time? He has been observing you taking pains to resolve your problem yourself – getting titbits here and there, relying on your own strength. Jesus is beckoning to you “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) You are carrying too heavy a load, give it to Jesus. You may not be able to carry it for long, all on your own. Jesus recommends that we live one day at a time – not to take on much more than we can chew. Fear of what tomorrow may bring can lead to anxiety, then to frustration. You have limitations; your strength will fail you, for counting on others. You can only heap disappointment on your plate. Take your problem to Jesus. He is our burden bearer. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)
The story is told of a widow (the widow of Zarephath) in 1 Kings 17: 7-24 who had a ‘handful of flour in a jar and oil in a jug.’ That was all she had left to eat for herself and her son, as the famine waged on. That was her last meal. Matters were made worst when she met with a man as she was gathering wood to fuel the fire. This man asked her to prepare a meal for him, before preparing one for herself and her son. She obeyed and God worked out a miracle in her life. Her family did not lack anything until the end of the famine. “For this is what the Lord, the Lord 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 gives rain on the land.” (verse 14)
Our God is good, he takes care of our minute needs – when we least expect them, at the point of desperation even. God shows himself strong to tell the widow that all is not lost. There is hope for the hopeless. In fact he is our hope, our refuge and our strength. All he has is ours, if we ask. “Ask and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7) As long as we do not magnify the problem, diminishing God’s stature he will do something about our circumstances.
David did just that. He returned from warring with the Philistines to discover that the enemy had raided the town taking away their property, wives and kids. Everybody was mad at him and would have stoned him to death in their anger. In a quandary, David did not know what to do. Instead of going under however, he enquired of the Lord, he encouraged himself in the Lord. He made an urgent appeal to his God to find out what the next steps should be. “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” God said to David; “Go, I will hand them over to you.” (1 Chronicles 14:10)
You must remember that David was a warrior and he was surrounded by some brave, experienced fighters. But he did not rely on his own strength. He leaned on the One who knows it all – the Omniscient; the One whose word is always true – no twisting or turning. So what happened next?
They went after the enemy and recovered all their property, wives and children – nothing was missing. Because he consulted God prior to undertaking the venture, he had given God all the glory. It was certain it was not as a result of his bravery or power that he was able to conquer the enemy.
Probably you are someone who has lost family, friends, loved-ones or your job even. Do not give in to despair! Do not be shaken, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus; he is mighty to save. He is in the business of saving souls, the lost, the broken-hearted and the trampled-upon - restoring them to normalcy. Jesus is not distant, he is nearby. He has promised “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He is ready to lend a hand if you will stretch yours out to him. He hears you. He can hear your sobbing heart. Just as God heard the widow’s throbbing heartbeats as the future looked bleak for her and her son and he changed their circumstances around to a bright and glorious future of constant supply. “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.”