The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry, because no rain had fallen in the land. So the LORD said to Elijah: “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you.” He left and went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” She left to get it, and he called out after her, “Please bring along a bit of bread.”
She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry,as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.
1 Kings 17:7-16
This is the first reading for Mass today. I was reading it this morning while I ate waffles and put off thoughts of the workday for a few more minutes. It is one of my favorite Old Testament passages because of its portrayal of the providence of God. A prophet traveling through the land, dependent upon others to support him but meeting persecution in many places; a widowed mother enduring the famine and fully aware of the direness of her conditions; a command from God to count on Him… Like weights on a scale, the risk of trusting God will come through sits heavily in the heart of the woman. She cannot see what, if anything, will be set on the opposite end of the scale. Will her need be met? Will the risk be balanced?
It wouldn’t be risk and it wouldn’t be trust if she could forsee exactly how God might provide for her.
She risks and she trusts and God does not merely balance things out but truly overwhelms the need and anxiety by His generosity and faithfulness.