1 Kings 17:8-24
8 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”
10 So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”
12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”
13 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”
15 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. 16 There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.
17 Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. 18 Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”
19 But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed. 20 Then Elijah cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”
21 And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him.”22 The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! 23 Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!”
24 Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”
This is very encouraging. It really touches my heart because not only was this woman a widow, but she was also a single parent who obviously was in the midst of some serious struggles. After all, she said in verse twelve that she and her son were going to eat their last meal and die. I believe that even in the midst of her dire circumstances, her heart was still in the right place and her ears were open to the voice of the Lord. The reason I believe that, is because when the opportunity to make a difference came along, she willingly accepted the challenge. She chose to help someone and be a blessing. She could have easily hung on to the little she had and made an excuse not to give. She could have chosen to operate in self-pity, but instead she willingly chose to obey God and give anyway.
Throughout this passage of scripture, we see God’s supernatural provision. We see that God can use anyone for his purposes, regardless of who you are, where you come from, what you do or don’t have, but the key is obedience. Elijah obeyed and went where God told him to go, and the woman obeyed and she gave what God told her to give. They could not see the end result, they just walked by faith and trusted that God would do what he had promised. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”
The woman first gave bread to Elijah, this was her offering to God. This offering to God was the portion that she sacrificed and gave away. She then kept the rest for herself and her son. After she obeyed God by giving to Elijah, God worked a miracle. He had promised her that there would always be flour and olive oil left in her containers and that is exactly what happened. Verse 16 says that there was always enough. In verses 17-24 we also find out the woman’s son became sick and died. Elijah ended up praying over him and he was raised back to life! I can’t imagine how different this story would have been if she had not been willing to open her home to Elijah and share what she had with him. She would have missed out on a whole lot, including seeing her son raised back to life. However the same is true with us, if we don’t take the steps of faith we need to take, no telling what we will be missing out on in our lives.
I am so inspired by this woman who was willing to open her heart by sacrificing the little she had so she could please God and experience “the more” that he had for her. In fact, after meditating on these verses, I begin to wonder if maybe she had been mentioned in the “faith hall of fame” (Hebrews chapter 11), so I went to investigate. I was delighted to find her in this simple sentence in Hebrews 11:35, “Women received their loved ones back again from death.” This widow is counted among the women who received their loved ones back from death. In the beginning this woman said she and her son were going to die, but after she obeyed God her situation turned around completely and went from death to life in more ways than one! Not only did she have the food she needed to sustain her family, but the Lord literally raised her son from the dead after he had become sick and died. Even after all of that, I would imagine the greatest reward was the personal encounters she had with the Living God and the way her faith grew as a result. After she went through these trials and test she knew without a doubt that God was at work in her life, because she made the following statement to Elijah in verse 24, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”
Elijah told her in verse thirteen not to be afraid. He knew that fear could keep them both from experiencing the blessings God had in store. These verses remind us to ask God often to show us any of the things that we may be hanging on to, no matter how small they may be, that he needs us to let go of that are keeping us from experiencing His blessings. When God tells us to take a step of faith and give of ourselves, we can’t let fear hold us back. When we are afraid, we can ask God to help us to move forward and He will. Every day we can choose to be obedient to the Lord. This widow has set an example to us through her faith and trust in the Lord, that when we do choose obedience, our containers will never run dry.
Thank you for your provision and the miracles we experience when we choose to obey you. Like Elijah and this woman please help us not to be afraid to follow the path you have set before us, even when we do not understand all of the details. As we learn to trust you may our containers overflow with the peace, joy, fulfillment and abundant blessings that come from a life lived in total submission and obedience to your will. We don’t want to miss out on your best for us dear Lord, but most of all we don’t want to miss out on You. It’s not just about what you do for us, but it’s about who you are and the amazing privilege we have to draw closer to you each day. The closer we draw to you, the more we know you and the more we know you the more complete our lives become.
In the name of Jesus we pray,