Then the LORD said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” 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?” As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.” 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.” 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. 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!” So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah. Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. 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?” 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. 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?” 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.” The LORD heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!” 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.” 1 KINGS 17:8-24 (NLT)
CONSIDER:I can only imagine how this poor, widow woman felt. She had only a little bit of oil and flour left in her pantry. Enough to make a small loaf of bread to feed herself and her son. And once that was gone, she knew they would both die of starvation. You see, the land is experiencing a famine. Because King Ahab disobeyed God and worshiped Baal, the prophet Elijah, prophesied: “there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” (1 King 17:1) In fact, Elijah had been living beside a brook of water and God fed him by sending ravens to bring him both bread and meat every morning and every evening. But now, that same brook that kept Elijah alive has dried up and God sends him to the village of Zaraphath where God plans to use this poor, widowed woman to save His prophet. Today’s scripture tells us that God instructed the widow to feed Elijah:
“Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” 1 KINGS 17:9 (NLT)It’s the last meal she has for herself and her son, but now she is to give it to this prophet of a God that she doesn’t even know. Somehow, God already let her know that He wanted her to feed Elijah. I wish the scriptures let us know how that conversation went! While scripture doesn’t reveal her response to God, when Elijah asks her to feed him she responds:
“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.” 1 KINGS 17:12 (NLT)“I swear by the LORD your God…” God is not her God; He is the God of Elijah. It is only after Elijah promises her that God will continue to feed her and her son that she obeys and cooks for Elijah. And God keeps His promise. “There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah.” (1 Kings 17:16) Even though this widow woman appears disbelieving and reluctant to obey, God still keeps His promise. God keeps His promises in spite of our belief or unbelief. Think about that for a minute… God’s promises do not depend on you. God is always true to His word. We can depend on Him even when we don’t believe Him. If you were here right now you would hear me release a great, big, relieved SIGH… I am not responsible for being good enough, or for having enough faith for God to keep His promises. Everything God has promised depends on HIS faithfulness, not mine. What a RELIEF! Yes, throughout scripture God’s blessings overflow to those who live a life of faith. We only have to read Hebrews 11 to see how God uses people of faith to fulfill His plans. But God is still faithful to His promises even when we are not faithful to Him. I want to be a woman of great faith, but even when I fail, I can be confident that God is still true to His promises. In fact, God fulfilled His greatest promise while we were still faithless:
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” ROMANS 5:8God is so good to us. His love for us is so great! On those days when you feel like you are a complete failure, never forget that God is always true to His promises. God is crazy about you! Work on that BIG faith, but always remember that God’s promises are true even when your faith is not.