Provision in the Narrow Place

God often uses our place of lack as His place of provision and power.   When we are dried up, worn out, and have nothing left to offer, He asks us to surrender to Him what little we have.  If we will obey and commit to Him our meager substance and our lack, He will transform our pittance into His more-than-sufficient provision.

In the case of the widow of Zarephath, God dramatically multiplied her resources to provide for the prophet Elijah as well as for the widow and her son.  The word “zarephath” is derived from a Hebrew word which means “refining” or “affliction.”  The name of this place has a plural ending on it, which implies that it was a place of multiple afflictions.   This widow definitely found herself in a tight spot, as she was down to her last bit of flour and oil.  When Elijah the prophet met her and asked her to give him some food, she was getting ready to prepare a final meal for herself and her son prior to confronting certain death from the drought.  However, she complied with Elijah’s request to make bread first for him, her guest, and then for herself and her son.  As she obeyed, God worked a miracle and multiplied her resources.  The supply of flour and oil did not run out, and she and her son lived.   This obedience paved the way for God’s subsequent supply to her household of His life-giving power.  Later, the widow’s son became seriously ill and died, but God used Elijah to resuscitate him.  Surely the widow’s obedience and surrender to God in the narrow place of affliction ushered in God’s power and provision.

1 Kings 17 (NIV)

1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”  2 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”  5 So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”  12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”  13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake 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 gives rain on the land.’ ”  15 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.  17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”  19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” 22 The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”  24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.”

Are you in a tight spot, a tight place, a place of affliction?  Give God what little you have.  Surrender to Him.  Do not refuse.   He will prove Himself faithful to you!oil

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