“So do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand,” ~Isaiah 41:10
© 2017 Lynn Abbott
I’m sure you’ve been there, too.
That sinking feeling.
It’s a desperate place to be. You definitely know that you have no control over anything. And you feel you have nothing left to give.
At times like these, I feel a little like the widow of Zarephath. She, too, found herself in a desperate place.
I Kings 17 describes her destitute state: she had nothing left but a handful of flour and a little oil. She had no other means for providing food for herself and her son.
She had no hope of acquiring anything more. After all, there was a famine in Israel, and she was a widow with little to offer her neighbors.
For this reason, she began gathering sticks in order to build the fire on which she planned to prepare a last meal.
For this reason, when Elijah met her at the city gate, he asked for a cup of water. And as she was going to get water, Elijah added: ‘Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.’
Lost and alone. And in that moment of quiet desperation, God asked her to give.
To give at such a time… Well, it goes against natural wisdom. It doesn’t follow common sense.
It’s a desperate place to be.
Indeed, giving when finances are limited, reaching out when my own health is precarious, encouraging when my heart is shattered, lifting another when I feel lost…it all seems counter-intuitive.
In the widow’s place, I might have laughed out loud. After all, under such circumstances, I would be so far down the road of fear that such an admonishment would seem ludicrous.
Beyond all doubt, my mother’s instincts would prioritize the safety of my son. Yet, Elijah said, “Do not fear…”
And it occurs to me that often what prevents me from giving God’s grace is just that–fear.
I fear that there won’t be enough for me or for those I love. I fear I won’t have the strength, or the energy to follow through.
Elijah’s answer to her doubts, her desperation, and her hopelessness was one of direct reassurance.
He did not condemn her for being afraid.
He did not lecture her.
Instead, he gently encouraged her to embrace God’s path of grace.
“Do not fear,” Elijah said. And then, he continued, “Go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first, and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son.”
Elijah’s request was not unreasonable. He did not demand all that she had. God would not require her to deny her family food. Elijah simply asked her to share first from what little she had left.
The antidote for fear was a bold act faith…faith expressed through grace.
When she felt all was lost, when she thought she could no longer hang on, when she felt herself sinking, God called her to give of self rather than to preserve self.
And in that moment of quiet desperation, God asked her to give.
Christ promised that ‘whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,’ (Matthew 16:35).
So, by faith, the widow gave.
She didn’t become wealthy. That isn’t what God promised.
But each day, she received what she needed: light for the journey; comfort in the midst of heartbreak; food for herself and her son; strength to make that next step of faith.
And in the same way, when you and I trust God with all that we have and are, He wraps us in His grace.