True Grit - Part 2: The Hard Thing Rule

On Sunday 31st March we continued  our series 'True Grit'.

In this blog you will find a summary of the talk.

To listen to the talk, please click here.

 This week we will be looking at how the Hard Thing Rule can help us grow our faith. Throughout the Bible; both Old and New Testaments tell us to do some hard things. One of them is to give thanks in all circumstances. Many years ago, I was injured at work. My thumb was broken, and it was both painful and debilitating. But I had determined to give thanks to God even in those circumstances. I realised that as I was doing this, I was becoming aware of the good things that were happening because I was injured. I experienced the love of my husband as he helped me with personal care. It helped the children and myself get used to my role swap. When I stared giving thanks, not for the circumstances but within them I saw so much within my circumstances to be thankful for. It was a real blessing.
There are lots of things that God asks us to do that we find hard. For example; loving our enemies, forgiving, loving our neighbour as we love ourselves, keeping the Sabbath, giving and trusting in God’s provision. The list goes on. We are celebrating Mothering Sunday today and often Mothers have to do the hard thing. They have to make their children eat what is good for them and stop them eating things that are bad for them and clean their teeth. They have to give them boundaries to keep their children safe and healthy and discipline them when necessary. But it is not just mothers, we are all called to do hard things at times.

There is a story in the Old Testament part of the Bible that is about a man called Elijah and a single Mum who both get given hard things to do. Elijah is a Prophet; a messenger from God who has to deliver a strong message from God to king Ahab: described as the most wicked of all the kings.

We find the story in 1 Kings 17: 1-16. You can read this here.

Elijah is given a very hard thing to do. He has to tell the King that there would be no more dew or rain for the next few years until he until Elijah gave the word. This is very dangerous but he does it. God tells him of a good hiding place by a brook, so he has water and God sends ravens to give him two meals a day. I would think that eating meat that carrion drop and eating it is a bit hard too. But Elijah trusts God. All goes well until finally the brook dries up. But God sends him off to find the Widow at Zarephath. Apparently, God has told her to feed him. Again, Elijah does a difficult thing and asks her for help. He asks for a drink in a land that has a drought. He then asks for food knowing that it is a big ask. Now it is the turn of the widow; a single mother, with just enough for a final meal for her and her son. But she does the hard thing and shares the little that she has with him. God keeps his promise and the flour and oil are replenished each time they’re used.

The widow and Elijah are both blessed by doing the hard thing. The experience also grows their faith. But faith can be fragile and when her son dies the widow turns on Elijah. She blames him for his death forgetting the fact that God had kept them both alive for some time. She also blames herself thinking this is a punishment for her sin. Elijah does the hard thing again and asks to take the child. She puts her trust in him and Elijah, who also questions God for taking the life of the child cries out to God and the child lives. The widow declares that he is truly a man of God. Once again Faith grows.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)

  1. Read the passage through a couple of times. What jumps out at you about the story? Is there anything that shocks or surprises you or anything that you find hard to accept or understand? What and why?
  1. Make a list of some hard things that God asks us to do. Go through the list thinking of examples from your own life. How did you respond and what was the outcome?
  1. Elijah and the widow experience a bit of a rollercoaster in relation to faith. If you read on to chapter 19 you can read more about the extremes of Elijah’s faith and how God deals with them. Can you relate to this growth decline and growth of faith? What can we learn from this?
  1. There are many characters in this story: King Ahab, Elijah, the ravens, the widow, and her son.  Which do you most relate to at the moment, why is that?
  1. As a result of looking at this passage is there anything that you feel you need to do?
Steph Littlejohn, 15/04/2019