These are unprecedented weeks for the peoples of the world as the coronavirus continues to accelerate around the world, bringing with it suffering and uncertainty. In this Thursday prayershot, Benji Stephen, a pastor in Bangalore who has also been working alongside Paul Windsor as a Personal Assistant, takes us back to a familiar story.
“As I write from Bangalore, India, I notice that one thing that has united the world in the past four months is the fight against COVID-19. Though each country has its own way of dealing with the crisis, everyone is fighting it - no matter, what continent, country, language, race or colour they happen to be. The other fight that is happening at various levels around the world because of the pandemic is the fight to save our economies. Job losses, salary cuts and closure of businesses have taken a severe toll on individuals and families.
As a pastor, serving my congregation during the lockdown in India has been difficult. A more remote shepherding is never easy to do. And so, as part of my pastoral ministry to my congregation, I’ve been sending a few nuggets from Scripture on Tuesdays and Fridays – like this familiar one from 1 Kings:
12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “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. 14 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 17.12-14)
It was a time of famine, with the widow of Zarephath and Elijah both focused on survival. God tells Elijah to go at once to the widow and get his food supply, not just for a day, but for days. The widow had the physical supply, while Elijah had the word of God. They were able to benefit one another, while God showed them that he is the ultimate redeemer of them both.
We know that the hand of the Lord is not shortened by a crisis. As a smaller church we have been involved in giving food to several families and individuals during the lockdown. Our people offered amazing support. It may be that during these times, this is what is required from each of us: to share a meal, or extend a hand, to someone in greater need than ourselves. Our supplies may seem sufficient only for ourselves when that knock comes at the door. God’s children are sustained by a 'jar' and a 'jug' made by humans, but their supply is sustained by Him so that we can share with others. May the Lord affirm again to us His ability to keep the 'jug' and the 'jar' full as He sees how best to meet our needs and those whom He brings towards us.”