A drought has caused major depletion of resources, and you are personally affected by it. Not only are you affected, but your pantry has dwindled down to the last meal. You have a child, but your husband has passed away. Completely out of ideas, you begin to prepare the very last meal you and your child will eat. Afterwards, outside of a miracle, you and your child will die.
But suddenly a man comes to you and asks you to prepare that meal for him instead saying, “If you will give me a small portion first, God will make sure your supplies will not run out.” What do you do?
We can find this exact scenario in 1 Kings 17: 9 -16. A man named Elijah is told by God to leave where he has been staying and travel to a certain town, Zarephath. There he will find a woman who is to supply him with food. Verse 9 records the voice of God and reads,
Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. I Kings 17:9
Elijah meets the woman and asks her for some bread. Verse 12 reads,
But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.’ I Kings 17:12
Rewind back up to verse 9 and read the last part, “. . . behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” The verb “commanded” is written in the past tense. The Lord has already prompted this woman to feed Elijah before he will even arrive. And then, sure enough, here comes Elijah asking for the last of her food. After inventorying her resources, her response is all too similar for many of us: “I can’t.”
How often do we get a subtle prompt from the Holy Spirit and quickly excuse it away because we’re incapable somehow? No time, no money, or perhaps even not worthy. Life is hard, and sometimes we think that doing what God asks would make it harder or is impossible.
Thankfully for us, God is in the habit of using our inadequacies.
Repeatedly, we find accounts in Scripture of God using uncreative, unqualified, broken, homeless, powerless, and unwanted people to accomplish His will. He does this so that we will know that it is only by His strength and His goodness that we can accomplish His desires anyway. God uses this woman despite her circumstances to bless someone else, and then in His loving-kindness He blesses her right back.
We must also consider if we refuse to do what He asks, life is certainly not going to get easier and may get harder. And then on top of the hardship, we miss out on God’s blessing for obedience. If the woman says “no,” not believing that God can do anything, that very well could be her and her son’s last meal.
An important aspect of having faith is being willing to act on it. It’s the difference between seeing a bridge and believing it can hold you versus walking across the bridge and allowing it to support your full weight. You do not have to have everything in your life in order before God can use you. In fact, He wants the very opposite. He wants us to come to Him with nothing but a willing heart and a surrendered spirit.
The woman allows the Lord to support her full weight, and in verse 15 we read the merciful outcome of her decision:
So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. I Kings 17:15
The commands of the Lord are not always easy. In fact, they are usually unconventional and force us to do things that prohibit us from relying on our own resources or strength. Many times we will not know what the outcome will be. But having faith is being sure that somehow God will do what He has said He will do.
Ponder your past and remind yourself of something the Lord asked you to do. What was your response and what was the result of your decision?
About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.