Our dogs have a strong distaste for crows and ravens (which is a nice way to say they lose their ever-living minds when we see one). Halloween is not a good season for walking these fools, since everyone loves to decorate with creepy crows in our neighborhood!
Corvids are a family of birds that include ravens, crows, and their kin. They appear creepy and have been associated as harbingers of bad news (thanks to Edgar Allen Poe for ruining them for us all). They have a highly developed avian society and are known nest-robbers and scavengers. Essentially, crows are like the mafia of birds.
I used to be creeped out when they landed in our tree like foreign spies gathering intel; however, lately, they have been reminders of the goodness of God.
For months, the story of Elijah and the ravens from 1 Kings 17 has been continually brought to my heart and mind by the Spirit. It’s a short tale, and a favorite for Sunday School classes for its unique and memorable nature. But as an adult, it is been shaping and strengthening me.
That our God would command his prophet Elijah to hide in a harsh place from an angry ruler does not surprise me. That He would create a draught yet provide for His servant from His own provisions is not shocking to me, though maybe it should be. But the ravens? They have my jaw-dropping.
Ravens are notorious for stealthiness and selfishness. They are cunning and have long been associated with bad news, harbingers for evil and ill. Yet, in a singular display of His gracious sovereignty and care, He commanded such birds to provide for God’s vulnerable servant. His powerful provision made them harbingers of hope.
Birds known to steal shared. And not just once, but twice daily for countless days.
When God call His people to extremity, He provides richly and uniquely. While most of us won’t know what it is like to hide in a deserted place in the middle of a drought in the kingdom of an irate ruler, we all have our own seasons of extremity. Extreme financial distress. Extreme loneliness. Droughts of hope. Deep hunger pangs for direction or company.
In these places, we must sit with Elijah in expectance of the Lord’s gracious provision. He knows our haunts. He knows our hunger. He knows our frames (Psalm 103:14). And He who apportioned such lots also commands the necessary provisions. While He could have easily commanded angels, he chose ravens to do His bidding.
The earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has established it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers (Psalm 24:1-2).
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases (Psalm 115:2-3).
These all look to you to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things (Psalm 104:27-28).
He may not send you ravens. But He will provide for His children. Our extremity is His opportunity. Not only that, but He commands us to be ravens to one another, to be the unlikely harbingers of hope.
Even the Ravens
The ravens which circle
I’ve sent to do my will.
Even in fierce famine
Mine will eat their full.
Even evil omens become
Servants at my command.
Even ravens can deliver
Provisions from my hand.
When silos seem empty
My storehouses, unseen,
Supply son and daughters;
My love is never lean.
To whom is He calling you to be a raven this week (a messenger sent with timely provision from a loving Father, be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually)?
What ravens has he sent your way of late?