From 2004-2012 a show ran on the ABC Network titled Desperate Housewives. It has been designated as a comedy, drama, mystery (who knew there was even such a designation). Though I never watched it, it was a popular show – as evidenced by its long running record. It followed the subdivision lives of several women and the desperate, often dysfunctional, experiences they faced. These women used deception, revenge, sensuality, envy, and greed to seek to help their desperate lives. This is how they faced desperate situations.
Given the fact that the show lasted nine seasons, many millions of people watched it and were entertained. I do not think that most people build their moral compasses from weekly television or internet series, but this series most certainly reflected the inner motivation of at least a few of its viewers. Which leads me to the question.
What about you?
How do you face and respond to a desperate situation in life? Many people respond to desperate life situations in ways that they were taught or modeled – whether that is good or bad. Scripture offers much needed truth and examples of how God’s people can respond to desperate times. True born-again followers of Christ respond to desperate times by a show of faith rather than fear.
There are four separate stories in two Old Testament passages that show the effective and victorious response of followers to desperate situations. In 1Kings 17:8-24 and 2Kings 4:1-37 the response to desperation of three ladies sets a pattern and example for all of God’s people when we face drastic and trying times.
Four Victorious Responses to Desperate Times:
- Completely Trust God’s Provision (1Kings 17:8-16)
In this story the prophet Elijah is sent to Zarephath to stay with a God-appointed widow during a severe drought. When arriving at the city, the widow informs Elijah that she has almost no food left. She is preparing her last meal for her and her son. She believes they will starve to death after the final meal.
Elijah not only asks her to get him something to drink and some food (that she does not really have to give), but he explains that she should make his first before the meal is made for she and her son. As astounding as the request is by Elijah to the widow, her response may be more incredible.
In 1Kings 17:14-15 we read,
“For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ And she went and did as Elijah said.”
Note that the widow’s response to God’s Word through Elijah is simple obedience. Her response reflected her complete faith and trust in the provision of God.
The trust of a child of God is not powerful because of his or her ability to trust. The trust is powerful because of God and His power. Your complete trust in God’s power, and not in your ability to trust, is what makes your faith great. Victory in desperate times can often depend on whether your trust is in you – or in God.
2. Completely Seek God’s Care (1Kings 17:17-24)
Some time after God fed Elijah, the widow, and her son, the son became ill. His sickness was fatal, and he died. What was this lady’s response? It was similar to her actions during the famine.
Her response is recorded in 1Kings 17:8, “ And she said to Elijah, ‘What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!’”
Once again, when the situation in her life became desperate, she knew that God was the source of her hope. Yes, she thought that the death of her son was punishment for past sins. Yes, her basic theological construct was inaccurate. Yet, despite her skewed theology, the focus of her trust was spot on! This was not a matter for anyone but the God of the universe. She brought her petition to the man of God.
She availed upon the prophet of God, but her trust was in the God of the prophet. Her son appeared unhealable, but if there was hope she knew it was in God Almighty.
I do not know what your desperate situation might be, and it may seem to be beyond hope. Yet, God’s care for you goes beyond your current situation. Facing desperation victoriously will depend on completely seeking the care of God. You must know that He ultimately wants the very best for you, despite how things may appear.
3. Completely Call Upon God: 2Kgs 4:1-7
When a prophet from the school of prophets passes, his wife and children are left in a difficult and desperate situation. There was no money or means of support for the widow. In addition to grieving her godly husband’s death, helping her boys to grieve the death of their father, and still running the household, she was also faced with bankruptcy and the inability to pay her bills.
The creditor who the widow’s family owed was preparing to come take her boys and make them his servants to pay her debt. Under the most narrow definition of desperate that one can find, this situation fell into that category.
What would be her response? The lead prophet of God on the scene at that time was Elisha. In 2Kings 4:1 it explains,
“Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.’”
The newly widowed woman was desperate, and heart broken, but she knew that any hope to remedy her situation would be found in calling upon God. She called on Elisha because the lady knew that only his conversation with God would be any help to her.
Completely seeking God is a powerful step in responding to desperate times. Seeking God completely does not mean He may not direct you to other means of support – medical, financial, vocational, psychological, or relational – but it means that God is your first stop. So often, when we have tried many other things, we then seek God. A child of God, faced with desperate times, will ultimately be successful when Jesus our Savior is our first place to go in seeking help.
- Confidently Searches out God’s Mind: 2Kings 4:8-37
Elisha meets a wealthy couple who provides him a room and lodging when he is in their town. They are especially generous to him, so he desires to help them. The woman has not been able to have children, so Elisha calls upon God for her. She bears a son, much to her delight.
One day, after the son is a young boy, he develops a severe condition in his head and dies. The woman lays his body on Elisha’s bed, saddles up the donkey and rides straight to Mount Carmel where she first encounters Elisha’s servant Gehazi. After telling him that things are great, the woman proceeds to Elisha, and this is the scene in 2Kings 4:27,
“And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, ‘Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.’”
Despite her grief and desperation, this woman knew that any hope of her son recovering was going to be found in searching out the mind of God through the man of God. In those days, calling out to God was accomplished through the prophet. When approached by Gehazi, she knew that she must by-pass him and get to where she could seek God.
Child of God, your desperate situation may be overwhelming, and your heart may be broken. Seek out the mind of God! Seek out the heart of God! His answer to you may, or may not, be exactly what you want but know that the mind of God is where your answers lie!
Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Look up child of God! The Savior of the world died for you, how much more will he offer hope in desperate times.