So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son.”[i]
God sent Elijah to this widow in Zarephath. When he comes upon her at the city gate he asks her for some water. When she goes to get the water he calls after her, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
The widow replied that she didn’t have anything prepared and she only had ingredients to make a small amount to make her and her son’s last meal.
What was Elijah’s reply? Well go ahead and do that BUT FIRST make me a loaf of bread with your last bit of oil and flour then make something for you and your son.
Logically this poor widow knew she did not have enough to make something for her and her son after making something for the prophet. To fulfill his request was going to require sacrifice and faith. Sacrifice in that she could possibly be giving up her last meal; and faith to believe God would provide her need.
Rarely do I feel like I am being asked to sacrifice and believe. Walk in faith yes, but how often does it require sacrifice on my part?
We see this is other Scriptures also.
The Macedonian Church gave beyond their ability out of their own poverty … for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor[b] of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.[ii]
The Widow that gave everything she had …and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.[iii]
In all three of these biblical examples they gave, not out of their surplus but out of their own need. Their faith required sacrifice on their part.
Is God calling us to take faith action that requires sacrifice? A “But First” kind of faith. A faith that relies on God’s goodness, faithfulness and provision BEFORE knowing how and when He will meet our need?
Elijah told the widow, “For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” [iv] How this happens is a mystery.
How God makes provision for our needs as we step out in faith is a mystery; exciting, scary and sometimes nerve-wracking but none-the-less a divine mystery.
Are we courageous enough to pray for a “But First” kind of faith?
[i] 1 Kings 17:10-13
[ii] 2 Corinthians 8:2-5
[iii] Luke 21:2-4
[iv] 1 Kings 17:14
Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at email@example.com.