In these COVID-19 days, images of empty shelves are splashed across all media outlets. Long line-ups of people rushing to the stores to purchase food items and sometimes over-buying non-essentials, resulting in hoarding.
While world poverty has been reduced significantly in the new millennium, there is still over a billion people world-wide who live in extreme poverty. Self-survival is not new to our generation and although we’ve never watched a child die from malnutrition, or had to resort to cannibalism to survive, a great majority have experienced a ‘scrapping the bottom of
the barrel’ time.
The Bible is filled with stories of people seeking provision during times of adversity. Jesus recognized this social issue; “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me,” (Matthew 26:11).
Panicking during droughts and diseases is mankind’s natural reaction to an adverse situation. But lack of provision is not necessarily the true underlining issue for our reaction.
The prophet Elijah is instructed by the LORD to go into Zarephath, a city of Idol worship, where it’s promised he’ll meet a widow who will “sustain him” (I Kings 17:1-16). After a long journey, Elijah reaches the gates of Zarephath, where he encounters a woman gathering sticks. It is unclear to him, if this is the widow who the LORD promised could help.
Elijah’s first test is to ask the woman to bring him a drink of water. When she complies, Elijah tests her and the LORD further, by asking for a piece of bread. With that request the Widow Woman hesitates and her motherly instinct kicks in. She balks, ‘I have nothing but a handful of flour in a jar and a little bit of olive oil in a jug, enough for one last meal with my son.’ After that, in her mind, they’ll die!
The Widow Woman knew water was available, enough for the old man to drink. Water comes from an earthly source, it cannot be manufactured – with her own eyes she could see it. It required little effort on her part to fetch a cup of water for a thirsty soul. Bread, on the other hand, demanded a willingness to give the little she had, and labour to produce something for a stranger. Baking a loaf of bread for him meant emptying her shelves by giving up the items needed most for her own household.
Elijah doesn’t let her off the hook. His message – bake me a piece of bread with your flour and oil, and bring it to me first. Afterwards, you can go back home and cook some for yourself and your son.
“The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘That jar of flour will never be empty and the jug will always have oil in it. This will continue until the day the Lord sends rain to the land.’ So the woman went home and did what Elijah told her to do. And Elijah, the woman, and her son had enough food for a long time. The jar of flour and the jug of oil were never empty. This happened just as the Lord said through Elijah.”verses 14-16
The Widow Woman, her son, and Elijah all learned valuable lessons which we can apply during this COVID-19 pandemic.
When the water supply dried up due to drought, Elijah had to leave his homeland and go to a heathen city under the direction of the Almighty. This was faith in action!
The Widow Woman, by getting the old man a cup of water and baking him a loaf of bread, had to believe the power of God through the words of a stranger. Watching these events unfold before his young eyes, her Son learned a valuable lesson called ‘compassion.’
Obedience is a powerful tool when it comes to provision. We often hit a panic button if, in our minds, we believe we’re lacking the basics of life. How bare do our shelves need to become before we are actually destitute?
“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”I Timothy 6:8
Elijah’s obedience to God’s direction saved not only his own life, but a foreign family. The Widow Woman’s obedience saved not only her family, but the life of a prophet.
“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.”Luke 4:25-26
My prayer is that we can all learn the valuable lessons of opening our ears to the direction and word of the LORD, obeying His guidance, showing mercy to others so like in the days of Elijah, our ‘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.”
Read Myrna’s recent book:
Captivating Creative Craftsmen & Study Guide, is filled with inspirational stories behind Biblical artisans and is the latest book from our Open the Word contributor, Myrna Petersen. With references to the Bible, it begins with story telling and gives prophetic understanding of how in the last days, the beauty and glory of the LORD will permeate the world, demonstrated through science and the arts.
As we draw closer to the Creator of the universe, we’ll be inspired to create new works. Creativity, part of our inheritance, from the cave dwelling era to modern society is revealed through various artistic means. It is not just the job of a few artistic types but the expectant hope of every man, woman, and child in the universe.
As Vincent Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silent.”
For a sneak preview and/or place an order of paperback copies @ $10.00 CDN plus taxes & delivery, from our distributor.
Download E-pub for various e-book formats @ $3.99 US.
Myrna Petersen is a writer and musician based in Regina, Canada and owner of Ideation Entertainment. She loves to uncover obscure historical gems and present these stories in the language of the common man. Myrna is the author of five non-fiction books, a stage musical and several film scripts. Check here for some of her other writings.