There was no widow’s pension in the days of Elijah. Nevertheless, the widow of Zarephath received a generous guarantee from God because she made the prophet a meal from her tiny store of food. God undertook to provide her with daily food during famine and drought. The God of heaven, who is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides, has not changed since the days of Elijah, and His promises are just as valid now as they were then. Many of God’s people can testify to this.
It is from the Lord Jesus that we learn that there were many widows in Israel during the famine of Elijah’s day; but it was to the widow of Zarephath that the prophet was sent (Luke 4:26). Human reasoning would count this strange. No husband, a dependent son; where could she obtain food during such a dearth? Elijah had nothing; the widow had little more. Both trusted in Jehovah Jireh. Elijah’s request to the widow appears insignificant. A little water, a morsel of bread. But during a famine and drought this would present problems to a faithless, self-protecting person. The widow had a handful of meal, a little oil, a few sticks of wood. Elijah asked her to make his first, and bring it to him, then to get hers and her son’s. This was the challenge to faith. But with it always comes the promise. Note the message that Elijah delivered from the LORD, the God of Israel, “The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain…” (1 Kings 17:14).
The Master tells us that the heaven was shut up for three and a half years (Luke 4:25). James tells us that Elijah prayed fervently that it might not rain for three and a half years (5:17). Yet the guarantee was given that the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil would not fail until the day the Lord sent rain on the earth. We can only marvel at the faith of Elijah, and the faith of the widow; but we can draw strength for our day from the same God who is so unfailing in His provision. Paul transmits to us his implicit faith with these words, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Do you believe this? ‘I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23).