*Take a look at I Kings 17:2-16
She had already given up. I mean, she was a widow. Preparing her last meal. And while she gathered the sticks to build a fire on which she would cook the final meal for herself and her son, she came across a man of God. Elijah. I imagine her tired arms lifting tiny pieces of sticks, her weary soul just wanting to lay down and give up the ghost. She had already lost her husband, and now here she was, a mother in the middle of a famine, barely a handful of flour and just a few drops of oil to her name, gathering sticks from the town square. I’m guessing that alone took every ounce of energy she possessed which made going any further, to possibly bigger sticks, out of the question. I imagine she crouched as she gathered, from the hunger that panged her sides. She had passed right through desperate and on into destitute. Without any semblance of hope.
No doubt her mind wondered as she searched. How long will our bodies hold on after this one last meal? How painful will it be? I wish I were already gone. And then a voice interrupted her thoughts.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” I’ll bet Elijah started, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”
Despondent and without will, she went to get it. We have no record of any kind of verbal response here. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess she figured why not? I mean, she was gonna’ die soon anyway. What was one more thing? Until her almost unconscious response was again interrupted.
“And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
Suddenly she awakens. Beyond broken, she is stirred to defense.
“As surely as the LORD your God lives, I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die.” (v12)
I think it would be safe to read between the lines a little bit here. I can almost hear some unspoken resentment. Like she could’ve screamed, “Hello! Can’t you see that I have nothing to give you! Why the heck are you asking me for help? You’re the man of God! Shouldn’t you be helping me? And yet, here you are asking me for not just water but for bread too?!?” As if the request for bread were just the last straw. Couldn’t this man of God see her own need? Surely he could sense her emptiness.
Maybe you’ve felt that way before. Like you’ve already given up everything you ever had to give, and still you’re being asked for more sacrifice. Training for a long-distance run can certainly feel like that at times. I’m supposed to run how many miles today?!? Or, I just gave up two hours of the little time I already had so I could take my long run and now I need to write a fundraising letter?!? Sometimes it feels like we’ve already given every ounce of everything we are. And yet we still have nine weeks of training left.
Remarkably. Elijah jumps right to the heart of the issue with his next three words to this poor, starving widow.
“Don’t be afraid.”
Don’t you love that? Don’t be afraid. Even though you’ve already given all that you have and all that you are. Don’t be afraid. For God will provide what He has asked you to give.
God will provide what He has asked you to give!
And then Elijah lays out God’s plan. “Don’t be afraid,” he says. “Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what to LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’ “(v14)
The plan: don’t be afraid. Hope. Courage. Have the courage to believe that what God has said is true. Courageously trust that He will give you more flour and more oil when you feel like you’ve given your last.
It’s the same plan for us too. Especially when it comes to Team Hope. Hope. Courage. Have the courage to believe that what God has said is true. Courageously trust that He will give you more energy and more strength and more time even after you give your last.
And we come full circle. Courage to hope.