First, this miracle parallels the one from the previous chapter, where the armies were instructed to dig ditches to catch the water God would send. The amount of blessing received was determined by the effort and the faith they demonstrated. Had they not dug the ditches, the water would have rushed past them and provided no benefit to them. If they had dug more ditches, they would have had even more water for their use. In the same way, the woman’s faith in borrowing vessels from her neighbors and her efforts in pouring out the oil impacted the amount she received to meet her needs.
This principle, that our blessings or miracles are impacted by our faith and our efforts, can be distorted into the heresy of the prosperity gospel. While God delights to bless His children with good gifts (Matthew 7:11), He also knows that our spiritual growth often requires chastening (Hebrews 12:6-7), and He has told us that we will have adversity in this world (John 16:33).
But we are also told in that same verse to be of good cheer because Christ has overcome the world!
So often we hear folks (even believers!) saying that the tragedies they are suffering have no purpose. No good can come of them. There is no silver lining. Who is the god they have believed in?
There are only three possible perspectives when our circumstances come crashing in and our hearts are breaking:
1. God is not able to stop tragedy.
2. God is able, but does not care to stop tragedy.
3. God is able and cares deeply, but allows tragedy for an eternal purpose that is beyond our understanding.
I cannot imagine worshipping either of those first two gods. And I don’t believe those gods are found in the Bible. The God of the Bible knows the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7) and He sent His own Son to go through the most horrific, tragic, and unjust death for our eternal salvation. That is not a God who is impotent or uncaring.
I’m further convinced that this third God is worthy of my worship because in my most tragic moments of loss and betrayal, God has given me tiny glimpses of His eternal purpose and glory. He is glorified when I remain faithful, despite pain. He is glorified when I praise Him through tears. He is glorified when I pour out the fragrant incense of prayers in the midst of suffering. He is glorified when I trust Him even when I don’t see anything good resulting immediately. He is glorified when unbelievers see that I am able to get through anything by leaning on Him. He is glorified when I turn my pain into ministry to others.
If you’re in the midst of that season of pain, in the haze of suffering where you’ve lost sight of the God who loves you so very desperately, I’m praying that the mist would clear enough for you to catch a glimpse of His glory.