1 Kings 17:1-24

It was mid-morning, actually past time to prepare something for her little son to eat.  But she thought if she waited a while, what he ate might help keep him from being too hungry by the end of the end of the day. But he was crying and asking for something to eat. 

Although she had been a widow for several years, she still was not used to the loneliness and making all the decisions by herself.  Her husband had left her with some savings that had supported her until now, and then this terrible famine had descended upon the land.  Even if she had more money, which she didn’t, there was nothing to buy.

She went to her cupboard and reached for the container of flour, hoping against hope that perhaps it contained more flour than she remembered.  She had been skimping, preparing less and less every day, trying to make the flour and little bit of oil she had last longer than she knew it would. But the container was as empty as she remembered it, and after she prepared their small cake today, there would be nothing left.  The flour and oil would both be depleted after their skimpy meal today.  She would have no other recourse, but to try to comfort her son as they gradually starved to death. 

She went out to the town gate to gather sticks for the fire she would use to prepare their last meal.  As she filled her arms with fuel for her fire, a bearded man with scraggly hair approached her.  Elijah, the prophet of God had been to her city several times before, so she recognized him as the man of God.  He asked her to bring him a drink of water in a jar, so she started back to her house to get a container.  As she turned to go, he added.  “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

She was aghast!!  How was she going to bring him a piece of bread, when all the flour and oil she had left was just enough for one piece of bread that she was going to share with her son?  How could she refuse the man of God? She respectfully but honestly replied to Elijah, “As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug.  I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son that we may eat it – and die.”

What she answered didn’t change Elijah’s request.  Instead he told her to go home and prepare his cake and bring it to him, then she could go back and make one for herself and her son.   We don’t know what went through the widow’s mind as she walked back home, prepared a cake for Elijah using her last bit of flour and oil, but she obeyed. He had told her if she made a cake for him, her jar of flour would not be used up and the jug of oil would not run dry until the famine was over.  What were her thoughts as she emptied her flour jar and poured out the last few droplets of oil and baked the cake?  Did she look at her son, and wonder what she was going to feed him.  It took a leap of faith for her to believe that when she came back to make a cake for herself and her son that there was going to be flour and oil.

Did she struggle all the way back to her house, hoping against hope that the prophet would be right and there would be flour and oil enough for another cake?  As she arrived at her house, she opened the jar and there was just as much flour there as there was before she made the meal for Elijah; and just enough oil!! 

Elijah moved into the widow’s upper room and there was food every day for the widow and her son and Elijah. The flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run out “in keeping with the word of the Lord” spoken by Elijah. 

Our story doesn’t end there.  Sometime later the widow’s son became ill and stopped breathing.  It probably wasn’t rational but she blamed Elijah.  “What do you have against me?  Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?   

We might ask ourselves similar questions during this pandemic.  What did I do to deserve this? What have I done wrong?  Why have I lost my job?  How am I going to pay my bills?  You can think of a dozen more questions.  So even though God had been providing for the widow and her son, she still was overcome with questions, blame and guilt.

Elijah took her son in his arms and carried him to the upper room.  He laid the child on his bed and cried out to God.  He stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord, my God, let this boy’s life return to him.!”

And the boy’s life did return to him!!  He carried him downstairs and gave him to his mother.  The widow was convinced that Elijah was a man of God. “Now I know that you are a man of God and from your mouth is the truth.”

We have a book full of promises from which come the truth!!  I am reading through the book of Psalm, reading the Psalm that corresponds with the day of the week, then adding 30, and reading that Psalm until I come to the end.  Yesterday I read Psalm 4, 34, 64, 94 and 124.  Over and over I was reassured that the Lord hears me and will answer my cry.

Psalm 4:1 “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Gove me relief from my distress, be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
Psalm 4:4 “Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him.

Psalm 4:6-8: Many are asking who can show us any good? Let the Light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you O Lord, make me dwell I safety.    

That was just one Psalm, and I was ministered to by the rest of my reading also.  God has not forgotten us, just as he had not forgotten the widow. Share with someone how the Lord has been supplying your need.    

Naomi Brinkman