It was a sticky hot and dusty day much like all the others, this particular widow was out collecting sticks. Sticks to make a little fire, just a small one, after all she only had enough flour and oil to make one last little cake of bread. She intended to make the little cake and give some to her son and then they were going to lay down and die (for she had no more food or money).
This mom was collecting what she could for herself and her son and had come to the end of herself, she had nothing else to give. She had resigned herself to the fact that no one cared.
I am a mom and I put myself into this woman’s place, it was not hard, sometimes I did not have enough when I too was a single mom.
I pictured myself in her place, out in my filthy sweaty rags and bare feet, scouring the ground, trying not to go too far from my little hut and my son, looking for sticks with which I could make a little fire. I figured she had probably spent the last weeks crying herself to sleep each night after her son went to sleep, so he would not see her cry, knowing in her heart and mind, that the end was coming. She was broken in her mind and spirit, knowing that she could neither protect nor provide for her son, her only son. Begging from the neighbours, or distant relatives, had come to an end, they were tired of her and her continuous wants, the handouts had run out.
Customary to the times, approximately 3,000 years ago, without a man to work and care for the family, a woman was a burden on society, she could not work, she had no rights.
This woman would be at her wits end, she had literally begged for food, begged from her gods and even, yes even, at some point said to the God of the Israelites, “if you are real and you are listening, could you please send some food for my son and me.” She probably dismissed this thought rather quickly when food did not miraculously appear. She had run out of options, hopes and dreams.
God tells Elijah in the book of 1 Kings 17 to go to the town of Zarephath in the country of Sidon, known now as Lebanon, “I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” In my reading of this story, it seems that the only one who does not know this, is the widow since she tells Elijah that she is cooking her last meal before they die.
Elijah did an interesting thing, this man of God. Instead of compassion or telling her God could perform a miracle, he asked her to instead make him a little cake of bread and feed him first and then he ads and there will be enough left over for you and your son. Was Elijah impolite, selfish, arrogant for asking to be fed first?
I marvel at this woman – she did it. She used what was left of her little flour and her little oil and made a little cake of bread to feed this strange looking foreigner. Why?
This widow probably recognized Elijah as a man of God, for she says, “I swear by the Lord your God…”, she does not mention her gods, she sees something in this man, perhaps – hope.
An incredible thing happened, the flour and the oil never ran out that day and they never did for as long as Elijah is there, it miraculously replenishes itself, everyday.
God is a God of all people, all cultures, all nations. God is the God of all the earth, and His grace and compassion on this single mom, an enemy of the Jewish nation is evident. He has not changed. He still is the God of compassion and mercy to all people, no matter their beliefs, or their country. God sent not only food, but a man to head the household of this particular widow.
Elijah stays with the widow and her son for what the Bible calls a long time. We do not know how long, but the 3, the Prophet, the Widow and the Son become their own little family.
Elijah invests his time into the son, he has no children of his own, these 3 have adopted each other. This man of God uses his time to spend with God and this boy is watching, listening, learning, gleaning what Elijah has to teach.
One day a disaster happens. The boy dies.
The widow blames Elijah for bringing disaster upon them.
Elijah says, “give the boy to me.”
He carries the lifeless body upstairs to a room, crying out to God the entire time.
He does a peculiar thing, he lays himself out, on top of the boy all the while crying out to God to give this boy his life back.
I pondered this act.
It was not until I pictured one of my children laying there that I understood. Any parent would give up their own life for the life of their child. “Lord take me, not the boy!”
Elijah lay down stretched out on the boy three times, each time pleading with God to give the boy his life back. I used to think it was a symbol of transferring his life to the boy, but now I think he was pleading with God to give Elijah’s life to the boy.
I do not know, I only know my own heart and what I would do and plead if it was me.
God relents and gives the boy his life back.
What a celebration it must have been in that little hut that day!
We do not know who it was that went on with Elijah when he left the village, but it says Elijah had a servant when he confronts King Ahab again later on in Elijah’s story, could it have been the boy?
I do not know, and no one probably has the answer to this question. The above story shows the love, compassion and care Elijah had for this widow and her son.
In our fatherless generation today, we need Elijah’s. We need men who will step up and train up the many children or even grown men, who have no idea of what a father is like or supposed to do.
God cared and had mercy and compassion on a widow from a foreign country and her son when they were on the brink of destruction, would we do the same?
I heard from my son about a man who came to Canada to live from a foreign country and he said that no one, not one person told him in Canada that God loved him. Who have you told this week?
This country is full of people from different countries, children without fathers and hurting people. What would the affect be if we each caught the Elijah spirit and poured ourselves out for the life of others?
Could they, can they, see in your life the same thing as the widow saw in Elijah? Hope.