• Joelle Steffen

A Hard Place

After two years working for Campus Life, I still feel new here. Maybe it’s because I started during one of the most unusual years in human history with a pandemic, a historic election, not to mention murder hornets. Do you remember those? Despite all of that, none of it even compares to how unending 2021 has been for me. My mom developed osteoporosis and broke her leg really bad. Like, jigsaw puzzle bad. So we moved in to help with the healing process, and then her vision started to go. So, now we’re there to stay. Caregiving is hard. Harder than I thought it would be. This isn’t the first time the Lord has brought me to a new place where I’ve had to go through hard times. In my recent study of Elijah, I learned that he, too, was brought to a new place which had its own trials, but through his faithfulness to God, he survived to serve God.


The first similarity that stuck me is the isolation. Kerith is a hiding spot for Elijah, and he is alone in it. While I am not hiding, caretaking is often lonely work. There’s a monotony to the daily grind, a lot of frustrations, and it goes unnoticed. Resentments can build up if they’re not addressed. But when you’re cut off from outside resources, that’s when you are the most dependent on God and his resources. The second lesson I’m learning (but one Elijah was infinitely better at) is obedience. Elijah obeyed God without debate or question when he was sent to Kerith and fed from scavenger birds and told to drink from the stream. Elijah didn’t complain or protest or passive aggressively go through the motions begrudgingly. No, he obeyed. I am learning deeper obedience to God’s will here, and it starts and ends with walking more closely with God. The more in relation I am, the more in love I am with who he is and what he’s done, the more I trust, the more I obey. It seems so simple. I see it every day in my dog, Lunes. I feed Lunes, pet him, train him, talk to him and protect him. In return, he is my shadow. Everywhere I go, he follows. Even when I’m in the shower, he’s right outside, waiting and watching for me. When I leave for work, my mom says that he is despondent. When I return home, he is jubilant. Dogs are truly beautiful creatures, and I am learning to keep my eyes upon Jesus from how my pet watches me.


God is also using this Kerith moment to teach me about his provision. I often worry about money, about having what we need to keep mom well. Mom’s health insurance doesn’t cover everything, and bills quickly build up. Anyone who’s had any brush with an ER visit or surgery knows this too well. I am going to trust God for this provision, though. I know that he will take care of us, and instead of stressing endlessly and trying to solve the problem myself, I’m taking a page from Elijah. God used scavenger birds deemed unclean in Jewish laws to bring him bread and meat. My job here is simply not to pre-judge the method in which God chooses to provide for me.


Lastly, Elijah’s time in Kerith shows me to trust even when God’s provision seems to by drying up. Elijah’s water is supplied by a brook, but the drought in the land causes the brook to dry up. Elijah watches as the steady stream turns to a trickle, but he doesn’t leave where the Lord has brought him. I find this to be the most inspiring part of this. There was no clear path, just day-to-day sustenance. Elijah allowed God to cut away everything, and in it, God brought him through to one of the most celebrated triumphs in Scripture: the bringing down of fire at Mount Carmel. There are areas of my life God is cutting away in this Kerith. It makes me nervous and like I’m in the wrong spot. Like, where is the blessing? Shouldn’t I be blessed if I’m doing the right thing? But I’ve learned that this kind of thinking is idolatry. Rather, God often strips away our wordly comforts and securities before he brings us to a place where we can more greatly serve Him. And I want to be of service. So, for as long as it takes, I’ll remain. And remind myself of Elijah’s story to help remind me that God does not leave us forever in these hard places. Rather, the harder the place, the greater the glory after.

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