Carefully she gathered sticks, wiping a tear away from her eyes now and then. Life had been so hard! Her husband was gone but he had left behind a part of himself to comfort her and give her great joy. His son! She smiled to herself as she thought about their son. She would give her life for that boy!
Tears filled her eyes again as she thought about their present circumstances. She had worked so hard but now there was this terrible drought and with it came famine. She had done everything she knew how to do but they were slowly starving. All that remained in the house was a bit of flour and oil. It would do no good to beg from her neighbors for they were in the same predicament.
The Bible does not tell us what was going through her mind but we do know by her actions later that she was indeed a woman of faith. I do know, however what it feels like to be helpless to relieve the suffering of your son and I truly believe that this woman was doing exactly what I have done in those situations. She was crying out to God.
A man approached her. We make the assumption that she knew who this man was. She very well might have. However, it is also true that she may have had no idea who he was... at least in the beginning. I think it is important to remember that and not jump to conclusions as to why she did what she did later.
He asks her for a drink of water. Apparently there was still a supply of water available for without hesitation, she quickly starts to go get him some water to drink. Then he stops her. He wants something more. He wants a bit of bread. He is hungry as well as thirsty.
She stops in her tracks. To comply with this request requires sacrifice. To fulfill this request she must give up her and her son's bread! She tells Elijah (for that was who the man was), of her plight. She was gathering sticks to make fire so she could bake the last bit of bread she would ever bake. After consuming it, she and her son would die for there would be nothing left.
But Elijah said to her, "Dont be afraid! Go ahead and do just what youve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use whats 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!" 1 Kings 17:13-14 (NLT)
She was faced with a choice. Yes, we find in the preceding verses that God says He commanded her to do so but we also know that people, having that thing called "free-will" do not always listen to God but rebel against Him instead. She chose to have faith in God.
She could have said no. She could have said, "I'm sorry. There is only enough for my son and I. I'd like to give but I can't." Then she would have gone back home, baked her bread, had a last meal with her son and died. That is what would have happened.
Instead, she stepped out in faith and did what God via His servant was asking her to do. How many of us as parents would do this? How many of us would give up our last meal?
Trusting in the Word of God, she did as directed and as long as the famine continued she always had flour and oil; not just for herself and her son but for Elijah as well. I cannot help but wonder how many other people in her community were recipients of her bread as well. When we step out in faith we often find that we are not only blessed, others are blessed as well!
Oil and flour. This is what God gave her. He didn't give her a big house or a fat bank account. He gave her oil and flour. How many of us would be satisfied with oil and flour? Would we complain and want something more or would we be thankful for life-giving bread?
Oil and flour. It is so simple but do you know how good it is? Do you? Have you ever had bread dipped in olive oil? If you have not, you should try it. Get a loaf of bread, the crustier the better. Homemade bread or bread from a bakery is best, of course. Pour a bit of extra virgin olive oil in a shallow dish. You can add a bit of balsamic vinegar if you wish but it is not necessary. Cut or tear (my preference) a piece of bread off the loaf and dip the end of it into the olive oil. Mmmmmm! Who would have ever thought something so simple could be so good! You could go into a fine restaurant and depending on what you order, you might find this simple pleasure on your table.
Our God knows exactly what we need and when we need it but in order for Him to provide it, this widow had to take a step of faith and be obedient to God. After receiving God's blessing, she did not keep it to herself. She shared it with others.
May we trust God to care for us and may we always share with others the blessings God has shared with us!
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonmelsa/258345208/
K, first of all, I do loooovee bread dipped in olive oil.
But you illustrate a great principle here, that God knows what we need. We see throughout Scripture where God asks His people to give up something HUGE in exchange for a blessing. The widow here with Elijah, or how about Abraham sacrificing Isaac.
I've written before about how God seemed to speak to me on Sunday morning, prompting me to put a sum of cash in an envelope and leave it anonymously for a family at our church who had been unemployed for a while. It was not a small amount, and I suffered doing it, but I was obedient.
A year later, after MY hubby had been unemployed for a long time, I discovered an anonymous envelope in OUR box at church, and it contained that very same amount of cash that God had prompted us to give the year before . . .
I just love how God works!
Thanks for posting this, it is an important lesson for us all to learn.
Oh so many wonderful principles in this account. As you say, if the woman had not obeyed, she would have eaten for a day and then died. But, because she was willing to sacrifice and obey the word of Elijah (the Word of God), she not only continued to eat but when her son fell ill the man of God was there to take care of the situation.
As Gracie said above, God knows the ins and outs of ALL things and He knows what is best for everyone for that is His business as God. We only see what is right in front of us and have no way of knowing what lies around the next bend. We don't but God does. That is why we must trust and obey and NEVER LOOK BACK.
Thanks for the great lesson in faith and obedience!