Friday, June 17, 2011

The Widow at Zarephath

In my time this morning I was reading from 1 Kings 17 where I read a beautiful story about faith and miracles.

Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

10 So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?”11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

13 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

15 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her son continued to eat for many days. 16 There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.

17 Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. 18 Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

19 But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed. 20 Then Elijah cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”

21 And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him.” 22 The Lordheard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! 23 Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!”

24 Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”

Immediately, when I read this story my mind and thoughts were turned to Haiti and how the beauty of Christ was manifested in the people there. At the end of each day in Haiti, we would debrief and our team leader would ask us "How did you see Christ today?" This question penetrated our hearts and allowed us to discover the divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing love of Christ. The widow in 1 Kings reminds me of a vivid story in city Soleil I want to share.

On the day that we distributed 10,000 gallons of clean water to the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere, I was broken by the sights that I saw but strengthen and amazed at one woman's faith. While the water truck was desperately filling up bucket after bucket with water, I was off to the side helping children place the buckets on top of their head; these little, bitty bodies, suffering from dehydration, carrying huge buckets of water...AMAZING! I honestly could barely lift the bucket, it was THAT heavy. As I was lifting bucket after bucket after bucket, one small little girl, about 7 years old, grabbed my hand and pulled it to grab onto her bucket. I thought she wanted me to help her put it on her head but she wanted me to help carry it to her house down deep in the slum. I was hesitant and didn't know if that would be ok for safety issues but she grabbed the other side and started to walk. I had to stop her and try to speak with my hands explaining I couldn't go. She desperately pleaded with me. She even had a tear begging me to help her. This was her only bucket of water and she needed to get it back to her house for her mother and siblings. My heart hurt. I felt God tugging at my heart to help this little girl. I proceeded to grab one of the guys off my team to go with me and cleared it with my team leader as we made the journey deep into the slum where this sweet little girl lived. The expression on her face showed extreme excitement within that I was going to help her carry her bucket of water With her on one side, we carried this bucket very carefully to her home, trying not to splash even one drop, for every drop of water was precious because this was all the water her and her family would have for the next few days. Try to imagine. I remember my walk through city Soleil very vividly. It was one of the most shocking and eye-opening times on my trip. The smell was almost unbearable. The houses were made of sticks and trash plastered together. The floor of the homes was dirt and it was damp. When we reached the little girls home, she ushered me inside where I was broken beyond words. "Her and her family really live in this?" are the thoughts that raced through my mind. Inside, it was filthy, damp, musty, full of mosquitos, and the only thing they had was a lawn chair off to the side in a corner. To the side, when I walked in, her mother was laying on the damp, dirt floor of their home, sleeping with a stone rock as a pillow. In that moment, I actually felt guilty of having a bed back home. The sweet girl was so excited to show off her home; she was so thankful she had somewhere to live and a bucket of water. I stayed for a minute and then gave hugs and went walking back through the slums to where my team was. As I passed one house, a mother came running from it with a big smile on her face. She was trying to tell me something but I couldn't understand the language. She began to motion with her hands and I instantly knew what she was wanting. She wanted to feed us. As I looked at her and her house and the slum that she was living in, I knew she could barely feed herself and she wanted to feed us. I was amazed at this lady's faith and her desire to give what little she had away. She was so thin and frail. I am sure she had 3 or 4 kids as they followed right behind her. The smile on her face I will never forget and the love out of her heart she was showing. She was so grateful of what we were doing and the water we were delivering.

I didn't learn much about this lady but from the conditions she was in, she could have been preparing her last meal. I saw this lady's faith in the Widow of 1 Kings 17. When the widow at Zarephath met Elijah, she thought she was preparing her last meal. But a simple act of faith produced a miracle. She trusted Elijah and gave all she had to eat to him. She knew that her and her son would die because that was all the food they had. But it was her Faith that changed everyting.

"Faith is the step between PROMISE and ASSURANCE." Miracles seem so far out of reach for our feeble faith. But every miracle large or small, begins with an act of obedience. We may not see the solution until we take the first step of faith. We serve a miracle-producing God and if we would just have the faith, we would see our miracle. I know that I want to have the faith of this lady I met in Haiti; the no question type of faith. Instead of saying "I can't give that God. That is the last $5 I have." I want to say, "God, I trust you and I take a step of faith giving all I have." Trust God to take care of your situation and know that He is in control of all things and so much bigger that our problems!

Miss Lauren
Haiti Team Member