Yesterday we looked at the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Today, as we conclude our series, I want to share Elijah's story leading up to the widow's son being restored. I believe this part of the story can help us understand the opposite side of the discussion from yesterday. It will in some ways make a case for believing that God not only can do but that God will do for us if we will have faith.
Elijah was a prophet of God during the time of a wicked regime. The reigning king's name was Ahab. And Ahab and his father's house had "troubled Israel" by forsaking the commands of God and worshiping the Baal's. In Ahab's stubbornness toward God, he refused to listen to any of God's warnings a.k.a. His prophets, especially Elijah. Ahab issued a warrant for his arrest.
Before that warrant, Elijah declared something very bold directly to Ahab's face. This declaration probably led to Ahab's particular disdain. In 1 Kings 17:1 Elijah said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." In today's vernacular Elijah might as well have said, "I swear to God Himself, the God I serve, there will be a drought in your land until I say otherwise!"
Unlike the situation with the bread and oil from verse 14 where God clearly said what would happen, did you notice that Elijah never says "Thus saith the Lord..."? This declaration of drought was all Elijah. Although honored by God the Bible tells us it was because of Elijah's faith. James 5:14-18 shows us.
While James is instructing his readers about healing (calling for the elders of the church, prayers of faith and anointing with oil) he appeals to this story in 1 Kings 17. His encouragement to the people was that if they do what is prescribed by faith they will be just like Elijah. Who, according to James, "was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit." This prophetic fulfillment is so crazy!
Elijah says something, prays "earnestly" and God grants it. So is this true for us? James taught that it was, for the Christians of his day. Elijah believed not only that God could do a thing, but he also seems to assume that God would do what he prayed for in faith. And guess what there is a way in which this is true, yes even for our healing.
Here's the caveat though. Throughout scripture, we read things like 1 Kings 17, James 5:14-15, Matthew 21:21-22, and Mark 11:22-24 and they all say that if we pray in faith, believing that we WILL receive, then we will. BUT... The whole of God's word is the truth, and therefore we must filter these passages through that whole.
1 John 5:14-15 says if we ask "according to His will" our prayer will be answered. It's not hard to believe that God CAN do all things by His nature. What's challenging is that God WILL do what we ask in faith. But again only when it's according to His will.
Do I believe that it's always God's will to heal the sick in this life? Honestly, no. Do I hold that it is continuously God's will to heal the sick? Yes! Will I continue to pray for the sick? Yes. Am I a man of unbelief who should not expect to receive that for which I ask? I don't think so.
In conclusion, healing is a remarkable subject. All sides of this discussion desire healing because we love people and want them to be free from pain and suffering. If we will remember this in our discussions, I believe that Philippians 3:14-16 will be fulfilled.