Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread — only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive 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.”
Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf 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 the 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 sends rain on the land.’”
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
1 Kings 17:8-16
Have you ever felt at the end of your rope, like all hope was lost? Like if God didn’t intervene ASAP, you weren’t going to make it? No doubt that’s how the widow felt. She was ready to fix a final meal for herself and her son and then just give up.
But what does Elijah say to her after hearing about her dire situation? “Don’t be afraid” (v. 13). It’s not an emotional putdown, but a call to courage.
The assurance of God’s presence and His power working on our behalf is why we can be courageous. Both Elijah and the widow were unable to provide for their own needs. So not only was God inviting the widow into a moment of courageous kindness, but He was asking the same of Elijah.
The economy of God is a strange and miraculous thing. The more you give, the more you receive. The more you pour out, the more He fills you up. Elijah was fed by ravens, the widow’s final provisions were multiplied beyond reason, and her little boy was brought back to life.
It’s tempting to read a story like this and focus on the obvious characters. Elijah showed up at the widow’s home and asked for a loaf of bread. The widow dipped her hands into the jars of flour and oil and formed the ingredients into loaves. Elijah took the lifeless boy from the widow’s arms and cried out to God for his life. Elijah and the widow both showed courage, but they are not the heroes of the story — for it was God’s power on display!
Friend, living the simple difference and choosing a life of courageous kindness doesn’t happen by our own strength but by God’s strength in us. We start where we are, give what we have, and God does the rest — more than we could ever expect.
God, thank You for again reminding me that You are compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and full of loving kindness. I acknowledge my great need for You. I offer my life — all that I have and all that I am — for Your glory. Use me to show someone else Your kindness this week. Amen.
This devotion is from our Bible Study Courageous Kindness: Live the Simple Difference Right Where You Are, written by Becky Keife and featuring stories from our (in)courage contributors. We’re pretty convinced that Courageous Kindness will empower us to change the world — one simple, intentional act of kindness at a time. Get a free week and learn more about the Courageous Kindness Bible study!
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