The Willing WidowSome time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread-only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive 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.”1 Kings 17:7-12
For context, read 1 Kings 17:7-24
During the time of King Ahab, there was a prophet named Elijah. He predicted a drought from the LORD as punishment for turning away to other gods, particularly Baal. When the drought occurred, God told Elijah that He had commanded a widow in Zarephath to provide food and water for him during this time. Zarephath was a pagan territory full of Baal worshippers. Nevertheless, he obeyed God and went to this widow.
When he arrived, he discovered that the widow was gathering sticks to prepare a meal using the last of her flour and oil. She was sure that it would be the final meal before she and her son died of starvation due to the drought. Elijah told her not to fear and asked her to make a bread cake for him first and then make a bread cake for herself and her son. Essentially, he was asking her to put his needs first. As a widow, she was likely one of the most destitute individuals in the land, even before a drought. At this point, she may have wondered at the nerve of this random stranger who would command her to give him some of the last little bit of bread that she had.
But Elijah promised, “For thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth’” (1 Kings 17:14
She obeyed. It says the bowl of flour and the jar of oil lasted for many days. The widow was a pagan woman who likely worshipped Baal, and yet she witnessed a miracle from the One True God. Baal, a god of storms and rain, did not have the power to provide for her during a drought. But the LORD God did.
This wasn’t the last miracle she would witness either. Some time later, the widow's son become sick and died. After the widow was obedient and faithful to share what the LORD gave her, her son dies? Why did God spare him from the drought just to have him die from an illness?
Elijah takes the boy up to the upper room, lays him in his own bed, and cries out to the LORD. He stretched himself over the boy 3 times and prayed for God to resurrect him. And God answered. He raised the boy back to life. It was the first recorded resurrection in Scripture but definitely not the last. When Elijah gives the broken-hearted widow her resurrected son she proclaims, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”
The WORD about women in the story of the widow is that God can work through you if you are willing and obedient-even if you are at your weakest, lowest, most desperate point. The widow was a pagan woman with very little to offer. She had accepted that they would die. And yet God not only spared them through miracles, she was able to provide for a prophet of the One True God. And when she saw His power, she became a believer. What will God do through you when you are willing to trust and obey?ReflectHave you ever experienced God’s provision during a low point in your life? How did God still work through you during that time? PrayGod, sometimes it feels like I have nothing to give. I feel useless. Today I am reminded that You can use me in spite of all that I lack because of Your power, not my own. Use me for Your purposes today. I am ready and willing. Amen.