Here is the “Women of the Bible” from the latest PCC Scroll. It features the Widow of Zarephath.
Name: Widow of Zarephath
Her Character: Though poor, the Widow of Zarephath was willing to share what she thought was her last meal with a stranger.
Her Sorrow: She was a widow, and she lost her son for a short period of time.
Her Triumph: Her time with Elijah taught her abundance, and her son was raised from the dead.
Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 17:8-24; Luke 4:25-26
The Widow of Zarephath’s story is found in 1 Kings. During an extended drought, Elijah was instructed by God to hide near a brook. He drank from the brook and was fed by ravens. When the brook dried, he was instructed to go and live in the village of Zarephath. God would provide provisions for him there through a widow. When he arrived at Zarephath, he saw the widow gathering sticks, and he asked her for food and water. She, unaware of her assignment, told Elijah that she was going to make her last meal with her remaining provisions and then she and her son could eat it and die.
Elijah encouraged her to not be afraid, and he gave her specific instructions along with the prophecy that there would always be flour and oil in her containers until God sent rain. She did what Elijah instructed, and she and her son ate. During Elijah’s stay, the widow’s son became sick, and he died. I am sure she must have been bewildered why God provided food to only take her son away from her. She confronted Elijah, and Elijah prayed over the child. God heard Elijah’s prayer, and her son’s life returned to him. The widow was not Jewish, but she had heard of the faith of the Hebrews before Elijah arrived, and she experienced God’s power first hand. Elijah stayed with them for some time, and her provisions lasted until the drought was over. During a drought, she experienced God’s abundance.
In the Widow of Zarephath, Elijah found help from a foreigner. Her story reminds me of the Good Samaritan. Let us be willing to give help and receive help from the unexpected. I find the willingness of the Widow of Zarephath to share what she expected to be her last meal amazing. In life, I have found a willingness amongst those who have so little to share what little they have without hesitation. Meanwhile, those with so much tend to have closed fists. It’s very perplexing.
How many of us would be willing to share our last dollar or meal with someone in need like this unnamed woman? I can think of a few real-life examples that remind me of this widow. One is a colleague’s grandmother. Her grandmother lived in Jamaica, and the grandmother would ask family who lived in England and the U.S. for old clothes. No one was quite sure what she did with all of the clothes that were sent to her over the years until her funeral. People came by the hundreds to share stories about her generosity. There were stories from people she clothed. There were also stories from those she fed, sometimes bread being shared. There is also a widow in Greece I read about. The widow is living on a small pension, but she has opened her home to refugees. People are free to come in, shower, share a meal, and get a good night’s rest. I love these examples of real-life women who bring the Bible to life.
The Widow of Zarephath is honored by Jesus. He refers to her in Luke while preaching in Nazareth. This is before he would raise the only son of the Widow of Nain. I am not sure what the Widow of Zarephath’s life was after Elijah moved on, but I imagine his presence had a lasting impression on her and her son for the rest of their lives. Like the widow, let us be stewards of all we have in a manner that allows us to share our little or our abundance.