“She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” 1 King 17:15-16
We are not strangers to hard times, but the current economic events coming on the heels of a pandemic sure have the feel of an intentional confrontation of discouragement. Discouragement is a weapon the enemy uses to distract us from our breakthrough. Just look around, listen to people. The enemy is doing a good job of stealing joy and gas money. Though Covid seems to be loosening its grip, the fear and despair that came with it do not want to move out of the mental space in our heads and our budgets. It is in this season where many do what is expected. Grumble, complain and talk about how big the problem is. Panic and fear grip tight as we go to social media and get piled on. As much as we would like to take the highroad, the lower road seems crowded with more people who are discouraged like us. Misery loves company. This would be expected in times like these, and most would not fault anyone struggling with this attitude. The other day a guy was putting gas in his big truck. As he was shutting his door after the transaction I heard him yell, “$100 dollars?” There may have been some other choice words too.
However, as believers, though we still have price at the pump shock, we are to also have a different perspective. We have, if we allow it, an eternal viewpoint that brings peace, provision and some life-giving ideas that can make the best of it. I was recently attending a prayer meeting where one of our junior high students prayed a short powerful prayer. He said, and I paraphrase... “God, I think you have some good ideas to share with us.” Two days prior to him praying this, I wrote the sentence in this devotion about life-giving ideas. (Yes, some of these writings take a few days.) It was a confirming word about God’s ability to give ideas to help us in our time of need and I shared that with him. These ideas are the unexpected things God has for us to do when we are face difficult seasons.
There is a story in the Bible about a “God Idea”. It was an idea presented to three people who had a great need. First there was the prophet who had a food and water problem. The brook that he was drinking from dried up. Gone! He needed a new source and God gave him an idea. More like instructions. He told Elijah to go to a town and there he would find a widow who would “supply him with food”. If I stopped the story here you might think the widow was wealthy and out of an incredible prayer life, heard the instructions from the Lord to feed the prophet who would soon be knocking on her door. But that is not how the story goes.
The widow had a food problem as well. Before Elijah could get there, she had mentally succumbed to the economic pressure of their unfortunate situation. It was so bad; the woman was prepared to make for herself and her son one last meal and then die. After that meal, there was nothing left with nothing coming in. Discouragement moved in and became a distraction to her breakthrough.
What the prophet needed was the same thing the widow and her son needed...food. This was something that the widow did not have an abundant supply of and yet God said, the widow would be ready to take care of the prophet’s needs. Did God forget to tell her? When the prophet arrived, the provision of food was not there. It was the opposite. If God was going to give an idea, now was a good time. Check out the idea in 1 Kings 17:13-14 ESV.
“Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
What was the idea? Give when you have need. Put others first when we have so many reasons to be first. Trust that God will do what He says He will do. If she would give the little flour and oil she had, it would not run out until the time came for her to be able to produce more. The widow had the opportunity to do the unexpected and thank God she did. She did as the prophet told her and prepared a meal for him first. The result was God’s abundant provision that brought life to the home, not death. By her choosing to do the unexpected, the provision of food came into abundant supply. Life came to what she thought was certain death by following God’s idea. If she would give, meet a need, be hospitable, she and her son would have more than enough to get them through the difficult season.
Now before we close this devotion, let’s look at some wise and practical ways we can prepare for God ideas. When facing inflation like we are today, it is good for households to reexamine budgets to see what truly are needs and what are wants. It is happening in my home, and we are doing the same thing in our church budget. This is not a lack of faith, but an opportunity to hear God ideas. When positioning our budgets to meet needs, we may have to cut cable, Amazon shopping may need to chill and passing Starbucks for that K cup at home is a good move. But when we do this, the motive is not discouragement. Instead, it is putting ourselves in position to hear God, obey and keep us on the path of the breakthrough we need. Instead of saying to God, “Hey, pass me up on this round and hit me up later.”, like the widow, we say, “Here I am God. I am ready to do the unexpected!” When we do this, it keeps discouragement in its place and our hearts filled with hope and expectation.
In these trying times, God has ideas for you, your family, your community, and church. Instead of despair, prepare to do the unexpected. Do your part in your budget, but also listen to what God is saying. There are ideas coming your way to meet the need of others and share His love. This will drive discouragement away and your breakthrough near. It happened to the widow. It can happen to you too.