"After the seventh time the servant replied,
“I see a small cloud coming this way.
But it’s no bigger than a fist.”
—1 Kings 18:44, CEV
The opening verse is referring to the faith of Elijah, the prophet, and has always been one of my favorite verses due to its principle that I love to embrace. As a matter of fact, it is one of the reasons that Erin began posting praise reports on the RMI site, how she said, sharing praise reports got started. Back when these started, she announced that she wanted them to teach the ministry members to look for their “very small cloud” that would announce, in faith, that their miracle was on its way. Hearing this, I began submitting praise reports regularly, announcing each time the Lord would do something in my life so that other women could get excited, no matter how small the cloud.
If you have also read her Restore Your Marriage book, then you’ve read the many verses in it that are on faith. Just to refresh all of our minds, let me list just a few of my favorites:
“And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done . . . but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” it shall happen’” (Matthew 21:21). No matter how impossible.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Again building each other’s faith by hearing about that impossibility He’s doing in your life, no matter how small.
Lastly, probably my two absolute favorites being: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). “And without faith it is impossible to please God . . .” (Hebrews 11:6).
Yet, in lieu of the principle for this chapter, it is this next verse that probably is the most important regarding our faith: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold (which is perishable) even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory and honor” (1 Peter 1:6–7).
The proof of Elijah’s faith was more precious than gold to God since its result was praise, glory, and honor to Him. God doesn’t need our money, since all the gold and silver (and everything in and on the earth) are His anyway. God only asks for us to tithe it, and then also bless others with it as an offering, in order to open up the windows of heaven over us. Even in our giving, He is peeking into our very souls to see our faith. Do we trust Him or not?
Funny that finances just happened to be the first example that came to mind when speaking about faith, because this is really what I want to share with you. This week, I received a small cloud in the mail, money that was no bigger than a man’s fist. So just as Elijah was totally and completely confident that just seeing that tiny cloud meant that the rain was about to pour over his life, so too, am I totally confident that my showers (a torrential rain) is about to hit in my finances. Confident is actually defined as “certain of having the ability, judgment, and resources needed to succeed.” Yes, Lord.
So, Wow—this pretty much sums up exactly what I want to say; I have the confidence in God that He has the ability, judgment, and of course, the resources needed to help me succeed. My confidence is not in myself—by no means! As a matter of fact, I know that I do not have the ability, judgment, nor the resources needed to succeed in my new position as a single mother of so many children, and I also don’t have the ability, judgment, or resources to provide for them myself—which is why I watch for the cloud indicating the downpour is coming.
“Now Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.’ So Ahab went up to eat and drink. But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees. He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go back” seven times. It came about at the seventh time, that he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And he said, ‘Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.’’ In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower” (1 Kings 18:41-45).
This story of Elijah began with God causing a drought that was over Samaria where he lived. And this drought was brought about by God in order to put Elijah in the position of bringing Him glory (and to destroy evil in their land). It is one of my absolute favorite stories in the Bible for many reasons. First it reminds me that each situation we find ourselves in, God sets us up, putting us in the position to show His power and to elevate us. And what makes me want to shout and dance is in witnessing the faith a man who saw only a tiny little cloud, when he really needed and was anticipating a torrential downpour, who, just by seeing the tiny cloud caused him to move into action. How awesome!!
Notice even before it could be heard, Elijah said there IS a sound of a heavy shower. This reminds me of this next verse I memorized early on in my journey that I said was one of my favorites, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” What he heard was God’s word saying that we could trust Him to this extent. Though Elijah sent his servant to eat and drink, he instead remained in communion with God. In the Message bible it says he, “bowed deeply in prayer” that I too imagine him doing or maybe he bowed down to simply listen.
Of course, the best part is how Elijah continued, a full 7 times, to tell his servant to go look— KNOWING the clouds would come! And again, it wasn’t that his servant came running back shouting that he saw a storm on the horizon or blowing their way. All he said he saw was a tiny cloud no bigger than the size of a man’s fist! So this means that it’s not when you receive that big check you were hoping for, but something so small and insignificant that it may not even pay one of your overdue bills. Or, in the case of being healed, it’s not that you can get up and walk, it’s that you can feel just the slightest sensation in one of your feet.
Additional proof of his faith is that Elijah didn’t wait to send his servant until more rainclouds formed, but with just this tiny cloud he urges him to go right away, warning him not to wait, lest he be caught in the downpour so it wouldn’t prevent him from letting everyone know the rains were coming!!
How’s that for exciting? And, if you really want to get excited, just read 1 Kings 18 in its entirety. No, better yet, start back with 1 Kings 17, because it shows us something else about God—He builds our faith to the point that we, too, will see just the small cloud for us to also act with total belief.
Knowing how Elijah’s faith blesses me, I can only imagine how it blessed God when there are only a small few of all humanity who’ve trusted Him to that level—and I want to be one of them. How about you? What’s your level of faith these days? Funny how we Christians are. We claim we want a powerful testimony, but we don’t want to go through the horribly difficult situations and crises that produce those kinds of testimonies—the ones that change lives as they witness our faith and peace in the midst of them. Never relying on ourselves or others to help, but simply waiting, listening and trusting that He will do what He promised.
Yet, as with all things, it takes the Lord and His love to change us to the degree we can exercise this kind of faith—and often, it means He’ll be the One Who carries us—carries us through those crises that rock our world. I know. Honestly, it’s during the “carrying me” crises that we are really changed the most dramatically. My guess is that when He carries us, we are resting so very close to His heart. This alone should help us never to fear what terrible catastrophes might be up ahead for us to walk through. And if we’re in His loving arms, even burying our faces deeply into His chest, we know He can bring us through or over anything, right? Just mentioning this to you has brought me great peace and joy in the midst of my current situation. I hope it has done the same for you too!
So before we move to the next chapter, let’s end this one by reading another of my favorite verses and one that I recently used when it appeared that there was no hope.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, YET I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
Amplified: “Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet and makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].”
The Voice: “Even if the fig tree does not blossom and there are no grapes on the vines, If the olive trees fail to give fruit and the fields produce no food, If the flocks die far from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls; Then I will still rejoice in the Eternal! I will rejoice in the God who saves me! The Eternal Lord is my strength! He has made my feet like the feet of a deer; He allows me to walk on high places.”
If you struggle with praising God with total and complete faith in the MIDST of crises, then I’d suggest purchasing or going to your local library to get the book Prison to Praise by Merlin R. Carothers. And if you’re concerned that the Lord will allow the fires of your life get too hot for you to handle, be sure you read October 29 in the Streams in the Desert devotional, which opens with the verse, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3) and its poem ends with,
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat,
Than was needed to make it pure.