–By Elizabeth Ahlman
Then the word of the LORD came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 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. 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.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah (1 Kings 17:8-16, ESV).
The widow of Zarephath was literally at the bottom of her barrel. She was collecting sticks to build the fire for one last meal for she and her son, at which time she was prepared to then await their deaths. Her stores of food were empty, and her hope was empty, too. She had accepted death and prepared to be emptied of even her life and that of her son.
Often life leaves us empty as well. Sometimes we are without food or money to buy more, and we do not know how we will fill our physical emptiness. Sometimes we are emotionally empty. Life has handed us one tragedy and stress too many and we have nothing left, we feel emptied out, blank, and dazed. And certainly we are all spiritually empty. In our sinful, fallen state, we stand before God empty of any worthiness, righteousness, or goodness. We have nothing to honor. We are emptied out and waiting only to be filled.
But we have a God who specializes in making the empty full again. From the widow of Zarephath and her never-ending jar of flour to the widow Naomi and her newly-filled house to the womb of Hannah filled with Samuel. The Lord delights in reversing our plights, in making full all of our emptiness.
And so He fills the womb of Mary with the incarnate Son. The Son empties Himself of all His glory and dies upon the cross so that we might be filled with mercy, forgiveness and life. He Who filled the widow of Zarephath and the widow Naomi and the barren woman Hannah and many many more, watches over us, as well. He fills us with all that we need for this body and life, and most of all, for the life to come.
Let us Pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, You watch over all Your people and look on them with compassion; continue to watch over us and fill our emptiness whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual, so that we may testify to Your great mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- Read last week’s guest devotion.