When God tells Elijah to go to Zarephath, God says, “I have commanded a widow there to feed you” (v. 9). The widow doesn’t seem to have gotten the message. She refuses at first to feed Elijah. Who is this man of God who comes asking for bread, when she has so little? What nerve to ask for bread before she feeds herself and her son?
Here is a widow and her son, on the brink of starvation. A widow that knows all about death, having been ready to enter into it. She has brought herself to embrace death at the edge of starvation. For three years, she has carefully prepared just enough flour and oil for the day. So that day-by-day, week-by-week, as the sun parches the earth and the creeks dry up, she watches as her food supply gets lower and lower. She has to witness her son grow thinner and thinner and more lifeless each day.
The question is not who is this man of God who dares ask a starving widow for a biscuit? But who is this God that sends a prophet to ask for life in the midst of death? What kind of God sends someone to a woman in trauma, fighting poverty, and is morally despondent heading home to face death with her child? What kind of God sends someone demanding life to a person who has given up on life?
The same God that heard the cries of His enslaved people and who sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the people go. The same God who heard the prayer of Jonah in the belly of a big fish. The same God that placed Ruth in the field of Boaz, her redeemer. The same God that rescued Daniel from a den of lions. The same God who opened the prison doors for Paul and his companions. The same God who after three days in a tomb rolled back the stone and brought Jesus back from the grave. It is the same God who speaks life into death. The God who is God of life. A God that provides for widows and orphans. The God who in just the right time sends a prophet to a widow and her son who are on the brink of starvation and promises an oil jar that will not run dry and a stash of grain that will never be empty.