1 Kings 17:8-16

This week’s devotions were written by Kathy Patrick, a member of Faith Lutheran Church.

The Widow of Zarephath, Part 1

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.” 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.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 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.”

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. 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.”

She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 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. 1 Kings 17:8-16

As expected, the wadi has dried up. Elijah is again thirsty and hungry, a refugee with nothing to count on but his trust in God. The word of the Lord comes and tells Elijah, ‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’” And the text reports that Elijah, “set out and went to Zarephath.”

There’s a lot going on in those two sentences. A lot. Elijah is an Israelite; the woman to whom he is sent is a gentile. He is a refugee, she is in her home country. He is a man, she is a widow—the most vulnerable, powerless person in all the ancient near east. He has a name, she is nameless, a literal no one. He has been fed by the ravens, she and her son are dying of starvation. He is called by God and obeys; she has heard the command of God to feed him, but the voice she has heard is not the voice of her God. Instead, as she tells Elijah, she has heard the voice of “your God”—a crazy God who doesn’t seem to understand that she is starving and has only enough for one last meal for herself and her son before she dies.

And yet, she feeds him. She feeds him. In the most extreme circumstances, out of her deprivation, she shares what she has—with a refugee, a stranger. Would we do the same?

Prayer:  Lord, the voices around us tell us too often that we should fear those who differ from us. Yet you tell us they, too, are your beloved children. You call us to love them, as you love them. You call us to be generous to them, as you have been generous to us. As we ponder our capital campaign, and the prospect that we could be generous with our gifts to help the Christian Community Service Center, remind us of the Widow of Zarephath. In her example, may we see the promise that—even when we think we don’t have enough—we still have more than enough to be generous to others. Amen.

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