November 7, 2021

November 7, 2021

November 7, 2021

Donna Tisdale
Laity, First UMC, Cleveland
Hiwassee District

I Kings 17:8-16 (NRSV)
The Widow of Zarephath

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” 11As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

Trust and Obey

Can you imagine being in the situation of this widow from Zarephath?  She is alone with her young son; she has one small cup of meal and a tiny bit of oil left in her kitchen, and that’s it. A famine is occurring in her community, and she has no way to get more ingredients for food. What can she do? She has decided to use the remaining meal and oil to make one more loaf for she and her son to have.  She and her son will eat, and then they will wait to die, believing that they have nothing else to do.
 
Then a man appears at her door asking for a bite to eat. She explains her situation to him, but he tells her things will be okay. “Do not be afraid,” he says (v. 13), assuring her that the Lord’s provision will not fail. Incredibly, she believes and obeys him. She makes bread for the man and then keeps on making enough bread for the three of them each day, and the resources last! She and her son and the man continue to have enough food to survive.
 
Through her faith, this woman offers hospitality to a stranger and is blessed by the Lord. What would you do? I admit that I’m a worrier. I don’t know if I could show the faith this widow displays or not. But look at the results! She didn’t hoard or hold back, and yet the oil jar was never emptied nor did the supply of meal run out.  Her radical hospitality was blessed by God. “Trust and Obey,” the old hymn says (UMH 467). May we have the courage and faith to trust and obey, regardless of our circumstances.

Prayer

Give me the strength, dear Lord, to believe that you are with me no matter what my situation. Make me willing to give out of my lack as well as from my plenty, knowing that you will provide. Amen.