Elijah is now deep in “enemy” territory in Sidon. God’s power can work anywhere. Elijah goes with confidence to the widow, but she is less than welcoming. At least she recognizes Elijah as following a different God when she protests, “I swear by the LORD your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house.” (Emphasis added).
But the widow has plenty of resources in God’s economy. Elijah’s own words of comfort, “don’t be afraid” tell us that God is going to move. There is a bit of a “faith test” to come, and we can be sure God’s saving action will be next. If God is going to use this woman, as he promised Elijah, then there will be a miracle.
This miracle, according to Elijah, will be “There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!” To us, we know God is capable of such a great feat, but to this woman, imagine her reaction to these words from a stranger who has been begging for food and water. How would you have responded?
Sadly, in our day and age, it seems like we see a lot of people in need of a miracle. There are many who hunger and die daily. It’s hard for us to understand why God saves some from famine and not others. How do we respond to help those in need? Do we feel a responsibility or look the other way?
Living in Mexico has really opened my eyes to what poverty looks like. I know there are pockets of poverty in every large city in the United States, but it seems like for many around us it is common. Many families have found it necessary to all live in one house, for example, while they rent out all the rest of the family homes to expats (like us) living here. It’s a business income for them.
We are also involved with ministries around the world supporting those living in need. One of my favorites is Hope International that empowers faith communities and provides individuals with loans to start businesses and improve the livelihood of their community. It’s not just throwing food and supplies at the people in need. It’s helping them problem solve a way that will sustain them long term. It’s a beautiful thing.
Speaking of long term, Elijah apparently stayed with this widow for some time. The word of the Lord spoken by Elijah did come true, and the widow’s family and Elijah continued to have plenty to eat. But because the Lord has still not sent the rain, complete fulfillment of God’s promise is still to come.
In the meantime, however, the widow’s son dies. She was so quick to pass blame on Elijah, wasn’t she? What other explanation could there be, she must be thinking. The Lord must now be punishing her for all her sins. At least she recognized her sinfulness. What did you think about that?
Even more intense is what happens next. Elijah is overcome with what has happened to the boy and pleads to God for him to come back to life. I am inspired by Elijah’s faith as he called out to God. He believed there was a chance the boy would live. God granted Elijah’s request.
Are we wondering if the boy’s life was spared to further open the eyes of the widow? News like that would certainly spread. The whole community could stand amazed at God’s provision. God could use this revival to impact his lost people to trust and follow him and leave those pagan gods behind. The widow’s own proclamation was a testimony to be sure. “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.” She gave God the glory!
If the mere fact that the flour and oil never ran out wasn’t enough to convince the widow of the power of God, her son now lives! Can you imagine the emotional rollercoaster that woman has been riding since Elijah came to live with her? For Elijah, he is still in hiding from Ahab, is he not?
This is such a great story that sets up the humanity of what’s happening at the time of this famine. God will bring the rain and use Elijah again. How is God using you these days? Ponder that.
Let’s pray …
Lord, may I be in tune with your perfect plan. Keep me focused on you and show me how you want me to be a shining light in this dark world. Thank you for how you used Elijah to show your power. I look forward to being your instrument and know you are right here beside me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.