Welcome to Day 9 of 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know! I am excited about this series and hope it is an encouragement to both women and men to spend time studying the women in the Bible. We can learn much from them about how to live for the glory of God.
Widow of Zarephath: Open Heart and Open Home
My friend Kristin is the queen of hospitality. Seriously, she really is. A few years ago she realized she didn’t know her neighbors the way she wanted to so she plopped a picnic table in her front yard and painted it turquoise. And since then she’s been championing the message of being “front yard people” in a way that is connecting with thousands of people around our nation and in other parts of the world.
Who knew something as simple as a turquoise table could be the inspiration for connection and community?
I suppose it’s not that surprising when we look at Scripture, really. We see examples throughout its pages of people who practiced hospitality in simple ways. Over the next two days we’ll be looking at two women who just took what they had and offered it others.
Today, we’ll be considering the widow of Zarephath.
Do you remember her story? It starts with Elijah the prophet in the Old Testament. God sent Elijah to this woman specifically.
Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Get up, go to Zarephath that belongs to Sidon and stay there. Look, I have commanded a woman who is a widow to provide for you there.”1 Kings 17:8-9 CSB
Elijah obeyed the Lord and found the woman. He asked her for some water and bread. Her response must have been a little surprising to him since God had told the prophet He had commands the widow to provide for his needs.
But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I don’t have anything baked—only a handful of flour in the jar and a bit of oil in the jug. Just now, I am gathering a couple of sticks in order to go prepare it for myself and my son so we can eat it and die.”1 Kings 17:12 CSB
When You Have Nothing
She had nothing, friend. NOTHING. She was making the last meal she believed she and her son would eat. And now this man was asking her to give it to him instead. I try to imagine what I would have done. And while I want to say I would have been as generous at this widow, I just don’t know if I could have taken the last piece of bread from my own child to give to someone else. Could you?
Then Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. But first make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. Afterward, you may make some for yourself and your son, for this is what the Lord God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.’”1 Kings 17:13-14 CSB
The prophet made her a promise. And it’s one the Lord has made to us as well — He will meet our needs.
How often do we lose sight of that? We determine to take care of ourselves rather than trusting God’s faithfulness in our lives. Remember what Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat; or about the body, what you will wear for life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: They don’t sow or reap; they don’t have a storeroom or a barn; yet God feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than the birds?” (Luke 12:22-24).
So, the widow and her son and the prophet all had food during the famine. The oil and flour never ran out. Each day the bottle held enough for that day.
But then tragedy struck and once again the woman’s faith in God was tested.
After this, the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. His illness got worse until he stopped breathing.1 Kings 17:17 CSB
Can you imagine? After seeing God’s faithful provision all that time and now losing her son? But not only was the woman distraught, Elijah was as well. He carried the boy to up to his own room and prayed,
Then he cried out to the Lord and said, “Lord my God, have you also brought tragedy on the widow I am staying with by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself out over the boy three times. He cried out to the Lord and said, “Lord my God, please let this boy’s life come into him again!”1 Kings 17:20-21 CSB
And God responded by giving the boy life again and Elijah gave him back to his mother.
Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know you are a man of God and the Lord’s word from your mouth is true.”1 Kings 17:24 CSB
A Lesson for Us
There will be times when is seems hopeless, when we don’t know how it will all work out. Even then God is faithful. The widow had resigned herself to death … but God met her needs as she was willing to meet the needs of another.
But there is another lesson for us in this story. As we trust Him in the smaller things, He will also challenge us to trust Him with the biggest things in our lives. He will meet us in our places of anguish and doubt and, out of HIs great love for us, give us the faith we need to continue walking in Him.As we trust Him in the smaller things, God will challenge us to also trust Him with the biggest things in our lives. And He will be grant us the faith we need to walk with Him as we trust Him. Click To Tweet
A Prayer for Us
Father, we know You are the one who provides everything we need. We forget and we get sidetracked and we begin to act as though we are our own providers. Lord, will You guide as back to You when we wander in this way? Will You remind us of Your great faithfulness, generosity, and love in our lives? And may we, like the widow in this story, declare Your words are true. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This post is part of the 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know series. You can find every post indexed here.