Article: Bible’s Take on Isolation | Evg. Libin Mathew
‘Isolation.’ Now we are all familiar with this word. We hear this word everyday, wherever we are. We know that our world has been gripped with fear today. Never have we gone through such a time in our lives. Doors are closed everywhere; people are in fear; Governments and scientists are doing everything to the best of their abilities and skills to overcome this situation. We can neither go out nor can anyone come in. Everyone who used to travel between states and countries are now in self-isolation. I myself went through a time of isolation. From this, I have realised that isolation is not a pleasant experience nor is it easy. Rather it is a time of loneliness, fear and hardship. If we go through the Bible, we can see people who went through a time of isolation. In the first Book of Kings, Chapter 17, we see a prophet who went through isolation at a place called Kerith. In this passage, we see that God calls Elijah to do a ministry. This is the first time we read about Elijah in the Old Testament. He was a Tishbite coming from Gilead. Normally the Bible present the geneology of such a person either with the name of their father or with the name of the descendants. But here we do not see Elijah being introduced in such a manner. This is because he was not from a famous place neither did he have a genealogy to be proud of. But when God called Elijah, he did not give excuses, rather he just obeyed God. Elijah was well aware who had called him and was assured that his God would neither leave nor forsake him. He had a heart to submit his life to God.
Dear friends, aren’t there times when God calls us to do His ministry, but we excuse ourselves from answering His call? I would like to encourage you through the life of Elijah. Our God doesn’t look for a well-established family background, nor does He look at how exceptionally talented we are. If we are willing to obey Him, He will fulfill all the promises for our lives.
In this chapter we see God sending Elijah to King Ahab to prophesy that there will be neither dew nor rain for the next few years. When we study the lives of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, we see that they were keen to destroy all of God’s people. The situation was not favourable for Elijah to even think about going to King Ahab. Even in such a perilous situation, Elijah never complained before God. He obeyed GOD and went to Ahab and proclaimed what God had told him to. He loved God more than his own life. He was not concerned about his own life. He did not add any value to his own life because he had experienced God’s love in his life. When we experience God’s love in our lives, we begin to love Him more than ourselves and as a result, we obey Him more and more.
When God saw Elijah wholeheartedly obeying His command, He sent him away for a period of isolation. Elijah hid himself in Kerith where he had to stay alone. What we learn from this instance is that he did not complain against GOD nor did he question Him. Often we grumble against or question God. “I obeyed You. I did Your ministry well. Yet why are things not falling in place in my life? Why is this happening to me? Why am I in a situation of Kerith in my life?
Dear friends, may be you are going through a similar situation of Kerith in your life. Perhaps you are all alone. Nobody might be there to understand you. The Bible says that He who has called you will neither leave you nor forsake you. He is with you. Even in a situation of Kerith, you are not alone. You will see the God’s provision in your life if you believe in Him. The situation of Kerith is not to destroy you; rather you will know Him better and closer in your Life. During the time of isolation, loneliness and hardship, Elijah saw God’s provision in his life. He went to Kerith and stayed there. Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and the evening, and he drank from the brook. Even though all the land suffered from the famine and drought, He who called Elijah to serve Him, was faithful to provide him bread and meat. I always remember this Malayalam song ‘Avan arkkum kadakkaran alla’ which means my God is not a debtor to anyone. Yes our God is not a debtor to anyone. He will fullfill all the promises that he has given us. Don’t worry about your situations. Don’t worry about your finances. Don’t worry about your health condition. Don’t worry about your family because the God of Elijah is with you and He is certainly a debtor to no man.
When Elijah saw God’s provisions in the midst of loneliness, fear and hardship, God was infact preparing him for another mission at Zarephath. Kerith was not only the place of provision, it also was they place of preparation. Later God asked Elijah go to Zarephath and stay there. We read that God had asked a widow to provide food to Elijah. As Elijah was about to reach, he met the widow and asked her for a piece of bread and some water. The verse reads as, ‘She replied I don’t have bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar. I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son. That we may eat it and die’. The man of God said, “Don’t be afraid. Go and do as you have said. But make a small piece of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me. And make something for yourself and your son.”
She obeyed what the man of God said and as a result, there was food for Elijah as well as the widow and her son every day. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty. When she obeyed what the man of God had told her, miracles began to happen in her life. Earlier she had planned to die. But God wanted to save her life. For that purpose God sent Elijah to Zarephath from Kerith. She made food for Elijah. She had a heart to serve because of which God saved her life from death.
Matthew 10:42 says, “If anyone gives a cup of water they will be rewarded for that.” That is true because our God is not a debtor to anyone. Have you spent your time or talent or strength for the sake of God? The Bible promises that everything we do to glorify the name of our Lord will be rewarded. God is able to provide even in the situation of Zarephath in your life. In the same way wherever we are today, our Father in heaven who is in complete control, has a purpose for that. Do not worry thinking God has forgotten you. No, he has not. He is preparing you for a mission. Wait for God’s timing and He will guide you. If you are willing to obey God, you can see His provisions in your life. If He has called you, He will fulfil all the promises He has given you.
As I conclude, let us not forget, that our God is not one who consider our experiences. He looks into our hearts. The situation of Kerith and the period of isolation were the times when Elijah saw God’s provisions. During the time of isolation, God was preparing Elijah for another mission. The situation that we are going through is not to destroy us, rather our God is preparing us for a new beginning. When Elijah left his comfort zone and obeyed God, he was used mightily. God made him a blessing to many. He was an ordinary man, but God made him an extraordinary man. Our GOD will never leave us or forsake us. He is not a debtor to anyone. Are you willing to obey him? Are you willing to submit your life to God?
Evg. Libin Mathew