Monday, July 15, 2013

Chasing History: The Widow of Zarephath – God’s Promise is True and His Faithfulness Endures

ChasingHistoryLinkUpAs I sit at my computer – whether in our designated computer room or at my laptop at my desk in my bedroom – a verse peeks out at me from near the screen. It’s a little old. The tape is worn and is barely hanging on. The paper curls around the edges, and in some cases, the print is a little blurry. But I know this verse in my heart. It’s what I clung to during our desert years. I will never forget.

For thus saith the Lord God of Israel: The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruise of oil fail, until the day the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth. 1 Kings 17:14 KJV

We all have seasons in our lives that feel like a drought or a desert. Oftentimes, it’s metaphorical: a dry spiritual season, month or years without a good friend to confide in or share community with; a stretch of time when nothing inspires or encourages us. But sometimes, sometimes those droughts are literal.

In the year that Asa, King of Judah turned thirty-eight, a season would begin for the people of that region that was a literal time of want. Ahab became king in Israel, and with his queen Jezebel, would bring a time of evil that had not been seen before: worshiping Baal, worshiping Asherah (specifically to provoke God), and doing more to anger the Lord than “all the kings of Israel before him.” Elijah, prophet of the Lord, went to Ahab and declared that there would be no dew or rain in the country in the next few years, except at his word. The Lord watches over Elijah, sending him first east of the Jordan to be cared for by ravens, and then into Zarephath where He directs him to the home of a widow and her son.

Of all the places and with all the resources available to Him, do you ever wonder why God chose a widow in small town near Jezebel’s home to shelter His prophet? Sometimes our circumstances are such that we ask God, “what exactly were you thinking here?” The beauty of His plan is that He always has something in mind – even if we’re unable to see it.

Elijah approaches the widow and asks for a drink of water and some bread. I wonder if he was famous (or infamous) enough to be recognized on sight? Would she have realized he was God’s prophet? Whether she did or not, she was not a person of resources – she was a widow with no family to protect or provide for her and she was down to her last bit for flour and oil for making bread. Probably the last meal she expected to eat with her son before they became victims of the famine and died. And here’s where God’s beautiful miracle intervenes.

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
1 Kings 17: 13-16 ESV

Photo by rollingroscoe
In this miracle, you’ll notice that there’s not an overabundance of flour and oil. It doesn’t say it was full to running over. Just that it never ran out. Just enough so that she could see on a daily basis that her needs were being met by God’s miracles.

There are times in this technological and twenty-first century that we feel we are beyond or outside of miracles. Sure, they happened in Old Testament times, or when Jesus walked on earth, but not now, right? I have to tell you, that I can’t agree. During the desert times that my family walked through, we saw 1 Kings 17:14 live out on a daily basis. For three years we survived without any work, except the occasional freelance job, and our needs were met in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. We had food on the table, the utilities were paid, the medicine I need was provided, and our car kept running. More importantly though, we experienced God’s grace in the most beautiful ways, as people around us became His hands and feet in helping us get through. There were times that my husband and I were so frustrated – all that job hunting, interviewing, papering the town with our resumes, coming so close to landing great jobs – all to be told that it wasn’t going to happen. I prayed and pleaded and, yes, even shouted at God, trying to figure out what was going on. When I finally stopped and listened, I was able to hear Him and the lessons He had for us to learn, the growth He wanted us to experience, the miracles He wanted us to see, the things that demanded total dependence on Him, which would not come without a drought or desert season.

Later in this passage in 1 Kings, in the midst of the miracle, the widow’s son becomes ill and dies. She’s seen God’s provision, and yet in her grief, she turns to Elijah and questions his word and God’s asking if they’ve done this to punish her even more.

God is so full of grace though, and using Elijah once more, raises her son from death and restores her hope.

Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.” 1 Kings 17:24 ESV

It’s easy for us to question her and wonder at her shallow faith – hadn’t she seen God in action all those days? And yet, I can tell you from my own desert times, from the midst of my own miracles, that there were times I still wrestled with God, where I still looked up from deep, wounded crying and frustration and said, “why God, why me? Why us?” How many times did this Psalm come up in my prayers:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Psalm 13:1-3 ESV


We see from the story of the Widow of Zarephath, and I will tell you from my desert journey, that the Lord loves us – He loves you. He will go to great ends to show His love. And while His timing is not always visible, His care and compassion is. He loves us in the midst of our unbelief too much to leave us stranded there. His faithfulness endures and will bring you to a place where you can say:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13: 5-6 ESV


I'm Chasing History again today with Just One Girl and the ones who are writing about women in the Bible. Come on over and share with us. We're a community coming together to talk about the stories He has written!

8 comments :

  1. Oh yes! He loves us too much to leave us stranded in our unbelief. I don't know why we can't be satisfied with enough - we always seem to be looking for an abundance. But sometimes He shows His power by giving us just what we need to get through that day, or that hour, or that moment. Great post!

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    1. Isn't it good when we can learn that "just enough" is good? Sometimes, that in and of itself is abundance.

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  2. Yes, yes, yes ~ Amen! God is SO good. Thanks for sharing:)!

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    1. Yes He is. Thank you for stopping by.

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  3. He loves us too much to leave us alone, right where we are. This is a good reminder that sometimes we need to stop questioning and just listen. Thanks Rebekah!

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    1. And thank you for starting this series. It has been such a blessing to go here and study and dig deep. I should spend more time, but even the time that I am spending has been awesome.

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  4. So Much Yes to this, my friend! So Many Amens! and this: "The beauty of His plan is that He always has something in mind – even if we’re unable to see it." ...oh my - a thousand times Yes!

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  5. "He loves us in the midst of our unbelief too much to leave us stranded there." We may think He leaves, but He never does. He is continuous, eternal, faithful! Love this reminder!

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Thank you for the kindess of your comment. I pray your patience with the word verification. I've had such troubles with spammers lately. Thank you for grace. I look forward to reading all the comments and responding. I appreciate you!