Refining Our Gentleness
[Elijah] stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.”
–1 Kings 17:21
During our time at Zarephath, God refines our gentleness. Somewhere during the three years Elijah stayed with the Gentile widow, her son died unexpectedly. How did she respond? She said to Elijah, “What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!” (1 Kings 17:18). She was saying, “You are here to judge me for my sin, and that is why my son died.” Now, we don’t know what iniquity she had in mind. Maybe she was a worshiper of Baal, or maybe her son was the product of some illicit relationship. Whatever the sin was, she blamed Elijah for her son’s death.
How did Elijah respond to this false and unfair criticism? Did he say to her, “That’s right. You are a sinner, and that’s why he died”? No. Notice how he responded: “He said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed. He called to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord my God, have You also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?’” (vv. 19-20). The widow mistreated Elijah, but he interceded on her behalf to God. “Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.’ The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him, and he revived” (vv. 21-22). How did Elijah know God would answer a prayer like that? There had never been a resurrection before in history. But Elijah believed in the power of God, and because of that God honored his request and raised the widow’s son from the dead.
What is even more striking to me than Elijah’s faith was Elijah’s gentleness in dealing with the widow. Even though she accused him unfairly, he dealt with her in kindness. Elijah was a picture of what the Lord Jesus Christ would do. When Jesus was being humiliated, mocked, and tortured during his trials, what was His response? The apostle Peter, who witnessed it firsthand, wrote, “While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). Then after those trials, when Jesus was nailed to a cross, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). People are drawn to God when they see us react not naturally but supernaturally–when they see us respond to injustice with gentleness rather than anger. God will refine that quality of gentleness in everyone who wants to be used in an extraordinary way.
The time you spend at Cherith learning how to trust and obey God completely, and the time you spend at your Zarephath refining the qualities of humility, contentment, and gentleness–those waiting times are not wasted times for those who want to truly experience an extraordinary life.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Secret #3: Wait on God’s Timing” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.