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A Jug of Oil in Famine

jugFor the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry. (I Kings 17:16a, NIV)

Sometimes there’s no getting around it. Chronic pain. Ongoing unemployment. Estranged relationships. Grief. After a while the relentless heat these kinds of challenges produce leaves us emotionally and spiritually spent. When life leads through a desert, how do you survive?

Consider the widow of Zarephath. Battling a devastating famine, she struggled to find food for her son. I try to put myself in her place. It must have been heartbreaking to see her child deteriorate more and more each day as she felt her own strength ebbing too.

Then came the day she knew she’d have to prepare their last meal, and so she willed herself to walk to the town gate to collect firewood. What was she feeling during those moments?

Suddenly someone called out to her. She must have been surprised to see Elijah the prophet coming her way. What did he want? His was a simple but preposterous request given the circumstances—he asked for bread and water.

She could have refused. She could have said, “Let us die in peace. Don’t bother us with your demands.” Instead, she shared the last of what she had because she believed Elijah when he said, “God 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.” And God was faithful—she and her son survived.

In our desert we may come to the end of our resources also. Where is God asking for your last flour and oil? In extra minutes given to a lonely neighbor despite your overburdened schedule? In another hour of patient perseverance enduring physical pain? In choosing trust over bitterness when hurting over the loss of a loved one?

Giving God the last of your inner resources takes faith. But do it. Like the widow of Zarephath, the Lord will not let the jug of oil run dry during your “famine,” and you will become a living miracle of His sustaining grace.

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