Providing From Nothing

widow_shares_her_last_cake_with_elishaAs I was reading through 1 Kings 17 I noticed something interesting. Elijah prophecies a drought and God tells him to go to the brook of Cherith. There God feeds Elijah by ravens that bring him food and he drinks from the brook. Well eventually the brook dried up and God commands Elijah to go to Zarephath where a widow will take care of him.

Elijah arrives and finds the widow gathering wood for a cook fire. She is planning on making bread with the last bit of flour and oil she has. This is to be the special last meal she is preparing for her and her son and then she knows they will die of starvation. He asks her for water and then bread. Now look at what happens in 1 Kings 17:12-13

And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now 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.”
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son

Now let’s look at what is going on. He tells the woman, first not to fear. Now remember she knows this is a man of God because God told Elijah He had already commanded her to feed the one He sent. She knows that she only has enough food for this one meal and now at God’s commandment she has to give it to Elijah. But he is comforting her and reminding her that the Lord is her God too and he will take care of her.

Many times God will ask us to do something and we feel fear. I’m not able we will say. I don’t have the money or the time or it is all I have. But God is telling us not to fear. He knows it is all we have. He knows we are not capable. Did God not know that Moses was a poor speaker when he called him or that Gideon was the weakest of a weak family? Yet God used both of those men to accomplish His goals. When God asks us to do something we should not fear for if God has planned it for us, it can’t fail.

Next he tells her take care of me first. He is saying everything is alright, you know what God expects you to do so go and do it. Sometimes it’s hard to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs. Sometimes we think that are problems are so big that we can’t worry about someone else’s. But God tells us to provide for others and he will provide for us. Just as this woman was providing for Elijah he provided for her because God’s blessing came through him.

And last he tells her to take the rest and make her and her son something. She just told him that she has only enough for one meal and he tells her make you something with the extra. When we take care of the needs of others God will make sure and take care of ours.

Just picture for a minute a stranger shows up and asks you to fix him a sandwich. You tell this stranger you only have enough bread for one sandwich and you and your son were about to eat it. The man tells you “That’s nice, but fix me mine first, then go and make you and your son a couple.”

You would look at the man like he was crazy. “Uh, excuse me. I said I have enough for one sandwich and there are three of us. Are you not listening?” So you go in the house grumbling and complaining and you take out two slices of bread and make a sandwich thinking to yourself great all that’s left in the bag of bread are the end pieces that I have to split. After giving the sandwich to the stranger you go back inside and pull out four slices of bread and notice that all that’s left now are the two end pieces. That’s when it occurs to you that those four pieces weren’t in there a minute ago.

God will always provide for those who serve him!

What gets me here is God took someone who had next to nothing and asked that they give it away so that He could provide for them. If the widow had chosen to ignore Elijah and cook her and her son their last meal they would have died, but her willingness to answer God’s call and sacrifice all that she had allowed her to live and provide for Elijah to live.

This is what happened with us. God chose to give up His only Son. His and the Son’s sacrifice allowed Jesus to live and provided for us to live. As we reflect on what Jesus did for us and see how God provided for this widow when she was willing to give all she had to someone else, we should be ready to sacrifice for the plans God has for us.
MSW

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