We saw in part one how God provided for Elijah during a terrible drought in Israel. I Kings 17:6 tells us that ravens brought him bread and meat each day and he drank water from the brook. Everything was going fine for him, that is until the brook dried up because of the drought. “What now God?” Elijah is surely thinking. “How will I survive without water?”
God wasn’t through showing his miraculous powers to Elijah. No more water…no problem for God. He next instructs Elijah to go to the city Zarephath. When Elijah arrives at the city gate, he meets a woman gathering sticks. This is their interaction in verses 10-13:
- Elijah: “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink…Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
- Woman: “As the Lord God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
- Elijah: “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel:‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’”
We really get a glimpse here of how terrible a circumstance the people were facing because of this drought. This woman who meets Elijah is in a desperate situation. She is down to her last bit of flour and last bit of oil. This is all she has left to eat. She is out gathering sticks so she can build a fire to prepare a final meal for herself and her son. She literally has nothing left to allow her to live.
I’ve never faced a situation like that so I can’t imagine the thoughts running through her head at that moment. She had to be thoroughly demoralized and crushed in her spirit knowing she only had a few days to live. All of that coupled with the knowledge she would probably have to watch her son die of starvation. Yet facing her impending doom, she does three remarkable things:
- She obeys the instructions of Elijah.
- She gives her last bit of food to someone else.
- She shows a generous spirit (by giving Elijah all she had left).
What a powerful testimony!
Attitude Leads to Blessing
I think my initial tendencies when asked by Elijah to perform this action would have been to – 1) be really cynical that this guy was trying to swindle a meal out of me, 2) be selfish and worried about my own needs first and 3) to reserve some of what I fixed for my son. We do not read in the text the woman felt or acted this way. Instead, she obeyed Elijah’s instructions and was blessed. God creatively provided again for Elijah, the woman and her son as we see in verse 16,
“The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord…”
Thank you, woman of Zarephath, for serving as an example of the type of attitude we need to have towards God and others – even in the midst of dire life circumstances.
How are you being obedient to God with what he has given you? What steps do you take to maintain a giving and generous spirit despite a difficult financial situation?
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