If there’s anything we know about being a woman, it’s that sometimes we’re called to give and give until we have nothing left. This is the story of the Widow of Zarephath who lived alone with her little boy. Those were the days when King Ahab ruled Israel. King Ahab was the one whose wife was Jezebel, a wicked, foreign woman mostly remembered for plotting the murder of Naboth the Jezreelite in order to take possession of his vineyard.
As was the pattern, God sent Prophet Elijah to Israel to correct King Ahab, who had sinned against the Lord much worse than all previous kings of Israel by allowing the idol worship of Baal and Asherah at the behest of his evil queen. In this particular case, God brought a drought upon the land but directed Elijah to Zarephath where he would find water and food. At the gates, he met the widow collecting sticks, perhaps for firewood, and asked her to bring him some water. In her generosity, she did as he asked, but on the way, Elijah also asked for a piece of bread.
She confessed that she had only a little flour and oil left in her house, enough for just one meal for she and her son, after which they would surely starve to death. Elijah assured her that the jars of oil and flour would not run out until the day God sent back rain on the land. Instead of being skeptical, she did as Elijah said, and so it was. The flour and oil did not run out. by receiving Elijah into her home, she and her son were fed during a terrible drought.
Later on her little boy fell ill and grew increasingly worse over time, until he stopped breathing. Naturally, she had some doubts. In her grief, she questioned Elijah, wondering whether she was being punished for her sins. She admitted that even though she was virtuous and generous, she was not without sin, and that’s normal for all of us.
Matthew 13: 12 says ‘Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’ – Another one of Jesus’ parables.
Elijah took the boy in his arms and cried out to the Lord, and his life was returned to him. In this way, the woman saw the Lord’s hand in Elijah and confessed it. This is a story of great commitment to serving God. It tells us that even when we are called upon to give everything we’ve got, God gives us much more in return. A similar story is seen in Mark 12: 41-44 when a poor widow gave her last coins as offering at the Temple, and Jesus took notice.
Suppose the Widow had refused to share her flour and oil?
Luke 12: 48 also says ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’
It is worth considering that when much is demanded from you, you are equipped with what is required to step up to the plate, (whether or not it involves a growth period in between).