Read 1 Kings 17:8-24
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon.” (Luke 4:25-26)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 73: The Widow. As has been mentioned before, leadership does not necessarily speak for all of the people. Just because the kings, queens, and/or leaders of nations are wicked does not mean that all the people of those nations are wicked. It is easy for us to look at the people living in “wicked” kingdoms and to assume that the people are wicked; however, that kind of rash judgment is neither prudent nor accurate. God’s people are in every land and under every type of leader.
This can be seen in the account of Elijah. As was discussed in the devotion prior to the last one, Elijah was himself one of God’s people. He lived in the “wicked” Northern Kingdom of Israel; however, he was not wicked. He loved the LORD God with his whole heart and dedicated his life to serving and representing him as a prophet. Placing his identity in God, he found himself confronting the most wicked rulers in the history of Israel, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.
With that said, Elijah wasn’t the only one who was following God in Israel at his time. We previously discussed Obadiah, who hid 100 prophets of God during a time King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were persecuting and killing the prophets. I also briefly mentioned the name of another one of God’s people when describing the great signs and wonders that God displayed through Elijah. This person, a woman, is known as the Widow of Zarephath.
This widow was one of the countless people who were starving to death because of the tyrannical rule of Ahab and Jezebel. While they lived in excess and led people astray from all that was right and pure, many people suffered, starved, and could barely make ends meet. When Elijah came to the woman and asked for a portion of her food and water, she couldn’t help but pour her plight out to him.
How could this man, this prophet, be asking her for something she didn’t have? If she were to have given it to him, she and her son would have no food left to feed themselves. She expressed that to Elijah who, quite compassionately, acknowledged that reality and assured her that God would not let her or her son starve.
She, though fearful, acted in faith and gave Elijah the food and water he needed. Yet, later on that evening, her son died! In grief, she cried out to Elijah, demanding an answer from him. “Then she said to Elijah, ‘O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?’” (1 Kings 17:18 NLT). To understand her grief is to know that she did not only lose a son, but she lost the only one left to take care of her. As a widow, her husband was dead, which meant her son had to be the head of the household. Without her son, she was left destitute.
Of course, Elijah cried out to God on her behalf and, indeed, God resurrected her son back to life; however, let us linger a little on the pain and grief this woman went through. Have you, the reader, ever experienced grief at the loss of someone you loved, someone you depended on? Have you ever felt like you are just squeaking by and barely making ends meet? Do you ever wonder why God is “cursing you.”
If so, know that these questions are natural. Also know that, as was clearly the case in this story, God IS NOT cursing you. Life is filled with all sorts of trials and hardships. We live in a broken world and, beyond its brokenness, death is very much a part of life. That is just nature. Yet, as this widow found out, God is with us! God will not let us suffer alone, but God places people in our lives to support us and encourage us and bring life back to us. Open your heart to God, step out in faith like the widow did, and know that God is with you now and always.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
God is with you.
Lord, still my soul so that I may know that you are God. Give me the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.