Some days I feel like I have nothing left to give, that I’ve reached the bottom of the barrel. Simply surviving today is all that I have the energy to do. Have you ever felt that way? Recently, when I was having a day like that, the Lord brought the story of the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17 to my mind. Stories about widows in the Bible intrigue me. There’s a special sisterhood formed from being in this unwanted club of widowhood. When their stories were significant enough to be recorded in scripture it makes me perk up and pay attention.
This woman mentioned in 1 Kings was literally at the bottom of her barrel, with only enough flour and oil left to make one last cake. She had no hope of her or her son surviving the famine they were in. In that dark place of utter despair, she meets Elijah the man of God. He, a complete stranger, asks her to give up her last meal to feed him! Along with the request came a promise that the God of Israel would provide for her needs. Her choice of willing obedience required trust in that promise. In the same way, the call for us to give of our resources comes at all times and seasons. Not only does that call come in our times of abundance, but sometimes the Lord asks us to give out of the meagerness of our own barrels. When emotional strength, time, money or talents seem to be running dangerously low, He might ask us to: lend a listening ear, make time in our schedule to teach that Bible study, or mentor that young person. He may call you to invite guests over, take a meal to that family, support that ministry or simply take time to read another story to our toddler. Our response to His prompting is often a reflection of our trust in His promise to supply all our needs. (Philippians 4:19)
God didn’t fill up the widow’s barrel all at once, but as she acted in faith, He gave her the daily portion that she needed. Her blessing of an endless supply of flour in the barrel and oil in the jug are a picture of what it looks like when we trust in the promises of the giver of life. He offers us the same daily portion of grace as we act in obedience to what he asks us to do. He keeps his promises to us, just like He kept the one made to that widow from Zarephath so long ago.
I also noticed in the story that the widow was not asked to feed every stranger she met, even though there were probably many hungry people. God asked one specific task of her. Sometimes our lack of resources comes from us handing out our “cakes” when the Lord hasn’t asked us to. The many needs in the world around us may clamor for your attention, but what is God asking you to do today? It may feel “small” in comparison to the other needs you see. But if God has asked you to do this one specific task, He has a purpose and reason for that.
Are you looking at the “barrel” of your life with anxiety over the meagerness or are you praising the Lord that He has supplied your needs for another day? If you are going through a dry spell right now, remember to trust the promise, obey His voice, and marvel at the unending supply that He provides at “the bottom of the barrel”.
Author bio: Rosalee Schlabach (Rosy) lives in Dundee, Ohio with her three children. She has been a mother for twelve years and a widow for eight of those. She has tried many different forms of arts and crafts and enjoys all of them. She also likes to relax with a good book or a warm bubble bath. Quality conversation is her love language, preferably over a good cup of coffee. She is passionate about truth and loves to share what God is teaching her with others. You can reach her at or on Instagram @rosymemories