By Ashley Synowicki
How do you typically handle life when it feels like everything is going from bad to worse? That was the question we were asked this week as we followed Elijah from the brook of Cherith to the town of Zarephath. Elijah had just spent approximately 18 months isolated and alone at a brook in the middle of the desert. Now God was asking him to travel countless miles outside of Israel’s territory for a purpose that he did not know or understand. To the native land and hometown of Jezebel he was sent, the very queen who was hostile to the Word of God and His prophets. Zarephath wouldn’t have been an inviting destination by any means, but still Elijah goes where his God sent him.
Not only was Elijah’s willingness a surprise, but the widow he met in Zarephath also responded in a surprising way. Her answers to Elijah, a complete stranger, were nothing short of remarkable. She was willing when she was approached by Elijah to seek water for him, despite the intense drought in the land. She was also willing to give him some bread even though she was struggling to provide one final meal for herself and her son. This widow teaches us ways in which we can learn how to respond well in times of deficiency.
She was honest about her ability and what she did and did not have to offer. She didn’t dwell on her lack; however, she was upfront with Elijah about her circumstances. Secondly, she was told, “do not fear” and she listened. Despite only having enough bread for one small meal for her and her son, she was bravely willing to trust Elijah and share bread with him when asked. Based on her response we can assume that whether she did feel fear or have second thoughts, she was willing and chose to act in spite of those feelings. The next characteristic she displayed was something simple, yet challenging. She went, plain and simple. She moved from the presence of Elijah out to the wilderness to find what was asked of her. In doing so she showed willingness to act. And finally, the widow did what she said she would. The widow acted out and completed the commitment she has made to Elijah. She was true to her word.
In choosing to act despite her deficiency, the widow ended up unknowingly saving herself and her son. Though she was interacting with the man Elijah, she was also in the presence of the Lord. Because of her willingness to respond, her family was sustained. Their sustenance came not only through the physical bread that she baked, but through the true Bread of Life. This is the only Bread that ultimately satisfies and never runs out. So what about us? What will we do when everything goes from bad to worse? Will we trust Him in our deficiency? The very problems we are facing are perhaps opportunities to trust like the widow trusted Elijah. The Lord often sustains us in the most unexpected ways.