(see text below)
The widow of Zarephath gave her last meal to the prophet Elijah. That’s pretty gutsy if you ask me. Did she expect that her faith or actions would save her life? Who knows? What the text tells us is that she obeyed the prophet and her life was spared because of God’s generosity. “You will not go hungry as long as there is famine in the land,” was God’s promise to her. It was not her obedience that gave her life, it was God’s word.
We are tempted to get our actions and God’s generosity mixed up. Good news: God is generous with life! Each heartbeat, each breath, is a gift from God, secured by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and given abundantly to all. It is not something we can manipulate. It is God’s gift for everyone, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of God’s abundance.
Focus our eyes on you, O God, the giver of all life. Help us to say thanks for this gift each of our days and to use this gift in thankfulness to you. Amen.
1 Kings 17:8-16 (NRSV)
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
9 “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”
10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.”
11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son.
14 “For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.”
15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days.
16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
By Tom Jolivette
Philanthropic Adviser, Luther Seminary
Master of Divinity, 1980