Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2010
Scripture: 1 Kings 17; Job 38; Job 42:5, 6; Luke 4:24-28; Hebrews 11:1; Revelation 1:17.
How many widows or widowers do you know? Of those, how many times have you invited them into your home? For many widows and widowers this Christmas will be the first time they have been without their spouse. Many are first-time widows who have lost their spouse at war.
According to the July 19, 2010 United States Census Bureau’s “Facts for Features” (online), 96.6 million Americans 18 and older were not married. Of this group 15 percent, or slightly more than 14 million, were formerly married and are now widowed.1
“Female survivors have been outdistancing their male counterparts by a continually widening margin and now represent approximately 80 percent of the widowed population in the United States. In 1940 there were twice as many widows as widowers; by 1990 the ratio of widows to widowers had climbed to more than four to one. This ratio is expected to widen in the future.”2
Eventually, everyone who is married will lose their mate.
Luke 4:24-28 reminds us that there were many widows in Israel, too. There was a great famine in the land for three years and six months. During this time God sent Elijah to just one of the many suffering women. Why do you think that was?
Our Bible story focuses on the faith of this nameless widow who lived in the town of Zarephath in the northern kingdom of Israel. Talk about a shadow figure. How would you feel if your only identification was the name of the city in which you lived? In this story her name is not what is important. What Jesus provides for her in her time of despair takes precedence.
Verse nine of First Kings chapter 17 indicates that God commanded the widow of Zarephath to provide whatever a stranger He was sending to her needed. Unbeknownst to her the stranger is Elijah, the prophet of God calling Israel to return from worship of Baal to the one true God.
In another city God commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath where he is to meet a widow who will provide food and drink for him. He does as the Lord commands.
At the city gate Elijah sees a widow gathering sticks for her and her son's last meal. Widows were poor and the people recognized them by their way of dressing. (Genesis 38:14). To be sure she was the specific widow God had prepared to provide for him, Elijah asks her for a little water in a cup. Then as she is leaving to bring him water he adds, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
The two do as God commands and meet to fulfill God’s plan for both of their lives. The lessons we find in the rest of the story are ones we can apply to the “famines” in our own life.