Monday, 18 February 2013

Matriarchs on a Monday - the Widow of Zarephath

To start off with, I thought that there was just one thing to learnt from this matriarch, but I was wrong.

One of the first things we can learn, can so easily be glossed over. How deeply do we think about the names and titles of people in the Bible?

"The Widow of Zarephath"

A whole title, as if "Widow" is just her name, not her situation.

This woman was alone with her son.  Her husband was dead, and she was left with the huge responsibility of taking care of their son on her own.

Alone, with a drought in the land, and virtually no food left.   No provider for her and her son.  No head of the family.  Just her and her son, trying to fend for themselves in desperate circumstances.

No government support.

No free hand outs.

No counselling.

Just a lone woman, doing what she could to help her son.

When Elijah met her she had NO idea that God had an amazing plan for her.

God, in His sovereignty, had planned it that this widow woman would be out collecting sticks, to prepare her final meal, just as Elijah came along.

God told Elijah that,

"I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee."

I would say that this plan was not something that the widow was aware of.  As far as she knew, she was collecting sticks, to cook her last meal and die. Her measly resources, lacking the provision a husband would have given, nearly gone.

"Commanded" did not mean, in this situation, that God had TOLD her that it would happen.

And yet, God had planned it to be that she would be instrumental in providing Elijah with a supply of food.

She with so little to her name.

She who had endured the sorrow and hardship of her husband dying.

She who was convinced that her life was shortly going to end.

God had far greater plans for her than the death that she expected to soon come.  He had planned that she would be part of a miracle.

Did you ever think, "WHY did God do this?"

Elijah was being provided his food by ravens until then.  God could easily have carried on using them to feed Elijah.  But no, He planned that this woman, bereft and desperate, would be the one who would now provide FOR Elijah.

You know how the story carries on.  Elijah asks her for some bread, and she confesses that she only has a little meal and oil left.  She can make him a little "cake", but then it would be all gone.  Elijah assures her that her meal and oil will not run out, until rain falls again and the drought is over.

That day, the widow was tested.  Her generosity, her faith, her love and her kindness we all put to the the test.  She willingly gave the last of what she had, to a man of God.  She had a sacrificial heart, in the midst of her own dire circumstances.

Ultimately, her faith was put to the test.

And, she passed.

By being willing to open her heart to Elijah, the Lord blessed her, and provided for her.

Instead of death, she had life.

She could have said "no" to Elijah.  She could have insisted that her son must have the last food, for he was just a boy and he needed it more.

But, because her heart was in tune with God, she was willing to give all she had.

As a result, 3 mouths were fed for as long as they needed it.  God blessed all three, as a result of her kindness.

There is so much about this that I find so very challenging.  So many things that speak to my heart.

God told us that she was a widow.  He considered it was an important enough piece of information for us to know.  What can we take from that?  God cares about widows and the fatherless.

Instruction after instruction was given, in the Old Testament, about what was to be provided for the "stranger, the widow and the fatherless".  God cares about them, and longs that they be cared for by His people.

"The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow"

Do we care for the widows and fatherless, as God does?  Do we make sure that we help any that we know - whether financially, practically or emotionally?  Do we give support and encouragement, as representatives of the Lord himself?  I can imagine that we ALL know of widows.  And, if we put our minds to it, there is some way that we can help them?  If God, in the Law, gave instruction for how to care for the widows and fatherless, under grace we should do no less!

Do you think, perhaps, that the widow remembered the words from the book of Moses?  Had she heard the words from Deuteronomy?

"For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: 
 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. 
Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." 

The widow, and Elijah, "the stranger".

She was caring for the stranger, as God's Word said should happen, even though SHE was the widow!  A heart of generosity.  That's what WE should have.  If we see a need, are we willing to give up the very last of what WE have, in order to help another?  Are we willing to go without our LUXURIES, never mind the basics, so we can meet the need of someone else?

I really, truly think that the thinking of the world has dragged us into being greedy and self-preserving, instead of having a sacrificial and generous heart. We need to get back into the mindset, which God laid out in His Word, of helping the widows and fatherless.

The last thing that really struck me, was the faith of the widow.  She just did it, trusting her future to the Lord.  She has no idea that when she gave her last to Elijah, that God would turn it into a never-failing supply!

Are we willing to put our faith to the test?  To go out on a limb, and give our all, to the honour and glory of God?  Are we willing to give to others, trusting that God will still care for us?

We don't just have this one narrative to place all our trust upon.  We have many instructions in scripture, that urge us to give and to be generous, and that in so doing God WILL take care of us.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. "
Luke 6:38

If that generous woman, in Zarephath, could give all she had, how much more can WE give?  I would hazard a guess that NONE of are down to our last meal, and waiting to die.  If you have the money to pay for internet or a mobile phone contract, you are NOT that hard up! *winks*

Speak to your husband, and find a way (if you don't already) to help a widow or the fatherless.  And, find ways to step out, in faith, to be generous in your life.  Our God is a great God.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He will provide for you and care for you, especially if you have a heart that is generous to give to others who have a greater need than you have. 

Better still, instil this heart of generosity in your own children - find ways to involve them, and train them up to think of others before themselves, and to be big hearted givers. 

May we all have the spirit of faith and generosity that the Widow of Zarephath had.


  1. Beautifully said, Caroline. I think that this is one area of ministry which has been sort of side-lined in these "days of plenty", and it is very much in my heart and on my mind at the moment.

  2. Linds - hugs to you. At the same time, you are such a giving lady yourself. I see you reflected in this lady.