Elijah the Tishbite was the greatest of all the prophets God sent to His people. He was the prototype for the ministry of John the Baptist in the New Testament, and the prophet who talked with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1-13). Because of his many miracles (like raising the dead, v.17-24) people said that Jesus must be Elijah reincarnated (see Matthew 16:13-14).
Elijah’s first prophetic act was to announce the beginning of a drought. With a boldness that would characterize his ministry, he burst into wicked King Ahab’s throne room with the shocking news that neither rain nor dew would fall for “years” (v.1). The prophet did not explain why; it was understood that God was punishing Israel’s idolatry and unfaithfulness. The drought of rain was a physical symbol of a spiritual reality: Israel was in a drought of righteousness and God’s Word. As Elijah hid from King Ahab through three and a half years without rain, God provided for him through the ravens and through a humble widow.
God commanded Elijah to go to a widow in Zeraphath who would provide for him. But God also commanded the widow (v.9). God spoke to this woman. I don’t know how He did it — maybe in a dream or in an audible voice — but God told this woman, “My prophet will come to you, and you are to fix him some supper.” A widow in that time and culture would have been very poor anyway, but this was a time of a protracted famine. Everyone would have been poor, but widows would be severely impoverished. But God commanded this woman to provide for His servant. The Bible doesn’t say how she felt about it, but you can use your imagination.
The woman told Elijah that she had a couple of sticks to fire her oven, the ingredients to make one final meager meal of only bread, and evidently no hope of getting any more after that. She planned to use the last of her supplies and then starve to death. But through Elijah, God made an amazing promise. He gave the widow His word that if she would use all that she had, He would make it last indefinitely. God was asking her to offer everything she had, first, and then when she had nothing left, to trust His promise that He would work a miracle and take care of her.
It was at this point that the woman arrived at what is called a “crisis of belief.” Henry Blackaby wrote about it in Experiencing God: “The crisis of belief is a turning point where you must make a decision. You must decide what you believe about God. How you respond at this turning point will determine whether you go on to be involved with God in something God-sized that only He can do, or whether you will continue to go your own way and miss what God has purposed for your life.”
The widow could have said, “Elijah, you’re asking the wrong person; I don’t have anything to give. I barely have enough to make one last meal, and I certainly don’t have anything to share.” I imagine there was a long pause as she just stood there in her crisis of belief. That may be where you are today. God invites you to trust Him, and you are standing there in your own crisis of belief. You are deciding what you believe about God. Can you trust His promise? Can you trust Him to take care of you?
Trust the Lord, and like the widow you will discover that something amazing happens when you put your faith in Him: He will take care of you, His resources are endless, and He can be trusted!