A devotion based on 1 Kings 17:8-16 for Sunday, November 8, 2009 

by Spiritual Care Minister Barbara A. Peterson

flour and rolling pin

“Would you bring me a little water … a piece of bread?”

The audacity of Elijah to ask a poor widow, destined to die of starvation, for a little water and a small cake of bread. Asking the poorest of poor for your means of survival doesn’t seem like the appropriate course of action, and it is certainly an unlikely source of help. Yet, these were desperate times. There was a severe drought and an accompanying famine that plagued the land. It was a matter of life or death; it was every man/woman for him/herself. The widow had only a handful of flour and a little oil to feed herself, her son, and now Elijah. If you know anything about being a baker or about flour; one handful will not feed or sustain three people. Elijah’s request must have seemed preposterous! Yet the widow was willing. Why?

It might have something to do with the culture of hospitality at that time, but it more so has to do with God’s words through the prophet Elijah that revealed the life-giving nature of God. Amidst the drought and famine, in this household, the flour will not come to an end and the oil will not be lacking. These are words of hope and words of life; God’s gracious provision will sustain all three people.

Also within the life-giving nature of God, this story shows how Elijah and the widow needed and helped one another. Elijah needed the widow with flour and oil, and the widow needed God’s gracious provision. God provided life and as God worked through each individual, they provided life for one another.

This is true for us today also. As we turn to God for help, he graciously provides for our need. And our gracious offerings to one another provide and sustain life here on earth. We too, in our times of drought or famine /trial or struggle, need one another. Our openness to allowing others, even those whom we least expect, to help us as well as our being willing to help them, has a reciprocal effect. It is mutual life-giving for both. Our very survival depends on this.

Figuratively speaking: What drought or famine are you experiencing in your life? What little bit of water or small piece of bread do you need, or, could you offer someone? Consider the life-giving nature of God both in his provision and his call for you to mutually help others.

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