Ever picked up a hitchhiker? Ever given money to a homeless man on the street? Ever given your last meal to a wandering prophet?
1 Kings 17:7-16
English Standard Version (ESV)
7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 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.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
The widow who helped Elijah didn’t pick up a hitchhiker. She didn’t just give an extra buck to a homeless man. This took more guts than anything that we would consider risky.
First of all, Why this woman?
This window wasn’t just a random lady. Verse 9 says, God commanded, or chose her, to help Elijah. The Hebrew word for commanded used here is tsâvâh – meaning to command, charge, give orders. So she knew who she was helping.
So she wasn’t necessarily a “nice lady” she was a “faith-lady” if you want to classify her, she was following what God told her, regardless of the risk. If she hadn’t been told to help Elijah she would have only been putting her trust in him. However since she was already set apart for this task, she was actually putting her trust and faith in God.
Secondly, what was her story?
First of all, the widow lived in a town called Zarephath, located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea on its own peninsula.
Now I’m going to generalize for a bit from research done online, this is simply a little history and geography lesson. Zarephath today is a city called Sarepta. In biblical times it was a metal working town, and they also supplied timber to the rest of the country. By no means was this a “farm” town.
But yet what the widow gave Elijah was bread from flour she had. Most likely, that’s not something she would have a lot of because she didn’t have a garden in the backyard; this was something she had bought. So keep in mind, her town was not one with farmland, wheat would be something imported from somewhere else. Even so, she was a widow who wouldn’t have much. And above all else it was a famine. This flour she had was worth more than what we realize.
It’s interesting, that she gave Elijah bread, rather than fish, or something else that surely was easier to come by. Why would the bread be the only thing she had left? Don’t get me wrong it could be because it simply lasted longer, or she so happened to have that left just because she wanted to save it.
But remember, she knew Elijah was coming. God told her to help him. So it seems to me that she saved up the best she had for Elijah. This also wasn’t just the best she had, it was the last thing she had too. She was giving him her and her son’s last meal. That was the absolute most she could give him, that was everything she had. It wasn’t just leftover crumbs she gave Elijah. It was life to her.
God doesn’t want our leftover crumbs. God wants the “whole meal” from us. True faith is dedicated faith. Faith doesn’t make us give the bare minimum, but urges us to go above and beyond.
Even when we don’t think we have much to give, our full faith in God is what he really is looking for.
The widow took a step she couldn’t take, that’s faith.
1 Kings 17:17-24
English Standard Version (ESV)
17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 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!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life[b] come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.
It seems just as the widow thought she had it all, something else happens.
Sometimes things seem simple that aren’t really simple. You’ve heard the phrase “Easier said than done.” Well just like that phrase, staying with your faith is easier said, than done.
For example, it might be hard to keep with your faith when you have financial problems. Or maybe you lose faith when you have family problems or problems with a friend. Things that shouldn’t get in the way of our faith in God… do. God said faith can move a mountain…. Well if it could move a mountain, Why not anything smaller? Why does a problem to us seem bigger than what God can do for us? And that’s because… we lose focus.
It’s not that you no longer believe in God… it’s just that he’s not first on your list.
Sure the widow believed in God. She had Faith in him to give up her last meal to a stranger. She had extreme faith. But did that keep her son from dying?
Sure, you may have faith in God; you can say that all you want. But if your focus is not on him, than is it really faith?
James 2:17 says, “ So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
The widow could have sent Elijah away and hated him till the day she died. But she let him go to her son, because her faith was still in action.
Just because you know who God is and have faith in him, doesn’t mean problems won’t come. And just because you don’t see the outcome of a problem, doesn’t mean God’s not going to fix it for you. From the beginning of our text until the end, the woman still knew who God was. Even if she had problems and doubted some, faith in God is what she still had in the end.
So was she perfect? No. Was she dedicated? Yes.
Even when we have hopeless circumstances, faith gets us through. And coming out of it after having faith the entire time, makes us stronger.
(Please note I am in no way, or claim to be, a biblical scholar. This post is for study and daily devotional purposes)
Scriptures used are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles