This is another one of those amazing thoughts that God gave me through reading to my son from his Bible-story book. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the stories . . . I don’t know . . . but it often speaks to me when I get too wrapped up in the history/technicalities/details of the full Word. That’s the ‘curse’ of a seminary education.
It was during the reign of Ahab, and Elijah had “caused” a famine in the land. You can check my facts in 1 Kings 17, but as I said, I DO have a seminary degree . . . **just kidding** (about being a know-it-all, not about 1 Kings 17). While everyone else subsisted on the verge of starvation, God fed Elijah, who was hiding in a ravine. But then God let Elijah’s water supply dry up. God immediately told Elijah to go to Zarephath, where a widow agreed to make him some bread every day despite her own lack of supplies.
This widow is the one on which I want to concentrate. Did you know that she wasn’t an Israelite? I just read that in the study notes of my Bible. The Scripture says, I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food (17:9). Obviously, she was the kind of person who listened to God even though she wasn’t one of the Chosen People. Otherwise, God’s command would have been ignored. It’s not too big of an inference, then, to say that she was also a pray-er. [He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:45) . . . or in this case, He withholds rain. I actually have another thought ‘percolating’ on this subject: When It Rains.] Specifically, I think she had been asking God to show her how to save herself and her son.
So when Elijah–a prophet of the One True God–asks for some bread, it seems like the opposite of an answer. Isn’t there a bit of frustration in her response to Elijah? She says, As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don’t have any bread (17:12, italics added). She has been asking for more food, or at least some option for getting more food, and here God tells her to give away the little bit of food that she has. It’s backward. It defies common sense. If I had been that woman, I’m sure I would have argued with God and with Elijah. Something like, “Are you serious, Lord? For weeks, I’ve been asking you for MORE food, but you haven’t supplied. Now, I’m down to my last little bit, and you ask me to give even that away. How is this possibly going to work?!?”
But it was in that obedience—an act of absolute faith, really—that God DID supply her needs. He supplied her needs not just for that day, but for the remainder of the famine (17:15). And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19). I can quote it, but I have a much harder time really believing it.