Since Isaac died I have had multiple days when I have woken up well before my alarm was set to go off. I would grab my phone off the nightstand to see what time it was, and if it was close enough to my normal time that it was worth getting out of bed.
Every time I would look at the screen it would say 4:42 am.
Often times I will use these opportunities to pray for people, but this started happening so many times that one morning I got up and decided to search for any Bible verses that might be 4:42.
Maybe that is a weird thing to do…but I feel like I am waking up at that time for a reason and spending some time in the Bible and seeing how passages with those verses in them might apply to me right now felt necessary.
First I came to John 4:42 “They said to the woman “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and we know that this indeed is the Savior of the world.”
I wrote this in my journal last week – I have long loved this story. A broken, sinful woman is met by Christ and given the opportunity to know the living water. She is transformed by this unlikely meeting, overwhelmed so much so that she runs back to her town and tells everyone what this man has told her about herself. It is humbling to speak out loud your sins, your idols, your defects of character, even if those around you are fully aware of them. And yet she has been so transformed that she doesn’t care. In doing so the people of the community come out to meet Jesus and because of her testimony some believed. But also many more believed because of their own encounter with Him. He deserves the fame. This is absolutely a time when we need to be sharing the hope of Jesus. Absolutely. But I especially need to do it with a humble heart. As someone who struggles with pride, I have to remember that my goal in the end is to make God famous, not me. Does it make me feel good when people say that the words I share make a difference to them? Of course! I would be lying if I said otherwise. My prayer especially today is that if there is anytime that my fame has become more important than Gods, that I repent of that. I want my words to stir in the hearts of others a desire to seek out God for themselves, to know Him on their own so that they believe not because of me and my words but because of of who He is. Lord help me to be humble. Forgive me for the times that I have sought affirmation from others before You, when I have looked to the world for for comfort or truth before You. May I always come to you with a humble heart.
Today when my eyes opened at 4:42 am, I decided to search again. This time I landed on 2 Kings 4:42. Now I will say that besides just reading that one verse I went back and read the entire chapter 4 of John and the entire chapter 4 of 2 Kings. It gives me context about what is happening in the story. Often times a single verse doesn’t make a ton of sense, but in the context of the entire story it becomes so much more meaningful.
In 2 Kings 4 we find the prophet Elisha, with God’s help, performing several miracles. The first is the widow and her jars of oil. A woman who couldn’t pay her debts and Elisha used overflowing oil to show her that God would take care of her.
The second is with a Shunammite woman who provided a place of refuge for Elisha and when he asks how he can repay her and she declines anything, he then says she will bear a son. She, like Sarah, was well beyond childbearing years and didn’t believe it was possible. But in v.17 we read that the following spring she bears a son. God can do the impossible.
But this boy grows and one day becomes very sick and he dies. The Shunammite woman goes to Mount Carmel where Elisha is staying and pleads for his help. First Elisha sends his servant ahead of him to lay his staff on the boy but he remains dead. Then Elisha goes to him and with God’s power, he lays on top of the boy and he comes back to life. Such strange imagery, but again it represents the woman’s faith and God’s power through Elisha.
Finally we read about Elisha coming to Gilgal and it says there was famine in the land v.38. He apparently makes this big pot of stew that is has wild herbs and gourds in it that were, unknown to him, deadly. When he went to serve it to the men with him they recognized it was not safe, even saying “there is death in that pot!” Elisha calls for some flour and after mixing it in, the stew is safe to eat.
So after ALL of that we finally land at 2 Kings 4:42 “A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.”
Apparently the “first fruits” were typically reserved for God and the priests. So this bread was an offering to Elisha. If we keep reading through the end of the chapter we see that this man questions how his twenty loaves could possibly feed the hundred men that were gathered there.
But see Elisha’s response ” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” 44 So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.”
We don’t know who this man was who brought this offering of bread and grain to Elisha. He brought his best and I suppose thought it was going to be a gift or an offering to the prophet. Not realizing that God was going to use that offering to be a blessing to others.
Isn’t that how we should bring our gifts to God ourselves? Bringing our best, hoping to honor God. But often we see that God uses those gifts and multiplies them so that they are a blessing to others.
I think as I read through the entire book of 2 Kings 4 we can see that we need to go to God when we feel desperate and when we are in need. We need to serve Him with our gifts when we are in abundance. We need to trust Him when we face things that are scary and we don’t understand and we need to pray for wisdom and discernment in all things. And we need to bring our best to Him and ask Him to use it and multiply it so that it might be an offering, a blessing to others.
This is a scary and frightening time right now. Uncertainty is finding me at every turn and coupled with the lingering grief that I am still feeling…..it has felt overwhelming.
But God has used these stories as a reminder that He is good and present and whatever happens will be for His glory and His fame. I just need to walk in obedience with Him. I am not saying I am doing this well, but I am trying to see Him in all of it.