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Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” 

1 Kings 17:8-9, NLT 

There were no public assistance programs in the times of the Old Testament.

If you were a widow, you were kind of on your own. And this widow was in the middle of the drought that Elijah had prophesied because of Israel’s disobedience and idol worship.

So, when Elijah shows up at her door and asks to be fed, we can understand her response: “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

She was getting ready to make their last supper, two small cakes, probably dry and crumbly, with no water to wash them down their parched throats.

But Elijah knew better.

Faith means knowing that God can change the rules of math, both because He can and because He loves us.

Having just spent several months in the wilderness being fed by ravens, he understood that God could multiply and provide in any situation: “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

Our sense of scarcity, whether it be physical or emotional, is not the same as God’s. What we see and what is actually available to us are two different things. God can turn our lack into lots in the blink of an eye.

The widow (I really wish we knew her name) obeyed Elijah’s instructions from God, and there was abundance. Faith means knowing that God can change the rules of math, both because He can and because He loves us.


How does this story challenge your sense of scarcity?


Lord, in those areas where I feel I don’t have enough, please show me you are the Lord of multiplication!


The best way to see our own abundance is to serve someone else as the widow did. Who can you serve today with the gift of time, a meal, or help with the yard?