Refining Our Humility and Contentment
Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.
–1 Kings 17:9
Zarephath was a place of refining for Elijah. What did God want to refine in Elijah–and in you and me as well? First, our Zarephath experience refines our humility. God said to Elijah, “Go to Zarephath . . . and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you” (1 Kings 17:9). Think of the humility that required. God said to this great prophet, “I want you to go to a widow and depend on her for your daily sustenance.” In Elijah’s time, widows were on the bottom rung of Israel’s economic ladder. Widows had very few resources. It was humiliating enough to place yourself as a dependent to a widow. But this wasn’t just any widow; she was a Gentile widow. Gentiles were viewed as scum because they weren’t God’s chosen people. Notice what Jesus said about this in Luke 4:25-26: “There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” Jesus’s point was that God’s plan has always been to incorporate Gentiles as recipients of His blessing. God sent Elijah to a Gentile widow to refine his humility. Don’t be surprised if God makes you go through humbling experiences as well.
Second, God uses our Zarephath to refine our contentment. Look at 1 Kings 17:10-11: “When he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, ‘Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.’ As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.’” Now, providing food was a problem, because there was a famine in the land. She said, “I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die” (v. 12). That’s pretty bleak, isn’t it? You would think Elijah would say, “I’m sorry.” Instead, he told her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain’” (vv. 13-14). He was saying, “Do what God has commanded, and afterward God will provide you an inexhaustible supply of flour and oil to eat until this famine ends.” What did she do? She “did according to the word of Elijah, and she and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord” (vv. 15-16).
God wants us to learn to depend on Him. It is hard to be content, isn’t it? We have this insatiable desire for more, better, or different. But that is an illusion. The only way to truly be satisfied is by learning to depend on God for your well-being. Extraordinary people learn the lesson of contentment like Elijah did.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Secret #3: Wait on God’s Timing” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.