“And Elijah said unto her, FEAR NOT; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.” ~ 1 Kings 17:13
FEAR NOT: Trust God (Even) More
Under ‘normal’ circumstances widows and their children (which the Bible calls orphans) were among the most vulnerable in society in the times of Elijah. They had no husband to protect them or provide for them. Consequently, they were often taken advantage of by men and often became slaves because of their eventual, perhaps inevitable, indebtedness.
But these weren’t ‘normal’ times, it was worse, much worse. Israel was in the midst of a long drought (which God had used Elijah to pronounce, 1 Kings 17:1) which had led to economic collapse. As a result, it seems, the widow had run out of food. She just had enough left to make a fried flatbread (“cake”) which she would share with her son as their last meal before starvation. She was facing the ultimate crisis, with no one to turn to. And she was facing the ultimate failure as a mother: the inability to care for her child.
In the middle of this crisis, here comes Elijah, the man of God.
Elijah, the man of God asks here to do what seems impossibly unreasonable: to give him a meal FIRST. “FEAR NOT” he says… “Fear not?!!?!” she must have thought. At her lowest point, God (through Elijah) was challenging her to give: to exercise faith while staring into the abyss.
Sometimes God challenges us in similar ways. When our lives are falling apart, will we still put out trust in God? Will we still put Him first? It’s easy to ‘put God first’ when things are going well. But how about when we lose our homes, or our health, or our jobs, or our children, or ‘all of the above’? Will we put God first then?
It is at these crisis points in our lives that we discover who we really are and who God really is.
The widow of Zarephath learned that she had more faith than she realized and she learned that God will sustain the one who trusts in Him. The widow made a meal for Elijah and God made sure her meal sack and her oil jar never emptied (1 Kings 17:14-20). In reflection, it is important to note that result was not promised to her. Elijah never said, ‘if you feed me God will bless you’. There was no transactional commitment. There was only a challenge to exercise faith in a very, very practical way.
Similarly, when God challenges us, we often can’t see the benefit: we can’t decipher how trusting in Him will make things any better. Indeed, we often are tempted to think “well, we trusted Him already… and it doesn’t seem to be working out… I am about to lose everything”. But God still insists, “trust Me, put Me first… FEAR NOT”.
We are not told why the widow decided to take a leap of faith. Was it fear of Elijah? Was it Fear of God? Was it apathy, the grim realization that death by starvation was imminent either way? We do not know. We only know that she did exercise faith and that God did bless her, and her son.
When the Christians in the early church (~ 1900 years ago) were put in the Colosseum to be mauled by lions, they had to exercise their faith too. They had to decide to trust in God, even if they would be put to death for that faith. Many believers did die in that horrible fashion, but God was still faithful. Because of their sacrifice, because of their faith, many, many hearts were broken. And,eventually, an entire empire turned away from idols and turned to God.
Yes, even in their death, God was faithful. For He used their deaths to bring life to many, many more… and we still benefit from their martyrdom today: their meal sack has not emptied and their oil jar still has oil in it.
If we make the leap of faith like the widow did, we too will find that God is faithful. Like the widow, we don’t know how things will turn out. But we will discover that, in life greatest challenges, the only faithful option, the only option that has any chance of rescuing us, is to FEAR NOT. Let’s put our trust in God.
This post is a part of a series on several of the “FEAR NOT” sayings in the Bible.