6-The Mystery of Childhood

Highlighting CHILDREN IN THE BIBLE

Part 6: The Widow’s Son

There’s a story of a little boy in the Bible who is not named. All we know is that his Mom was a widow—meaning that her husband had died.

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In that time, things were not going well because wicked Ahab had become king, and he and Queen Jezebel were greedy and mean while making the people disobey God and pray to idols.

There was also at that time a prophet of the true God, whose name was Elijah. A prophet is one who receives messages from God that he must tell either to one person or to a group of people. This time he had to tell it to King Ahab himself!

The King sighed as he looked at the prophet Elijah standing  before him wearing, as usual, a coat of animal skins and a wide belt around his waste. What a weird man, he thought to himself, and how I hate him because he always tells the truth. He and Queen Jezebel paid no attention to the truth and no one dared to tell them the exact truth because they were afraid to make them angry.

Elijah bravely told the prophecy,“I have been sent by God to inform you that there will be no rain for a very long time.’”

Ahab certainly wasn’t in a mood to hear this kind of a message. He set his lips hard and with glaring eyes he said, “So what you’re saying to me is that there will be a famine.” Both of them knew very well that a famine happens when there is not enough rain to grow food.

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Elijah nodded and hurried off, running as fast as he could to the countryside. There he came to a calm and beautiful little stream where the water was clean and cool. How good it felt to drink all he wanted, and to rest on the fresh, soft grass after running such a long ways. Then, he realized that he was getting hungry. Where was he going to find food? Just then he saw birds fluttering  over him who swooped closer and closer and then dropped delicious food into his hands. O how delicious it was and it was enough to fill his stomach.

Now he realized that God had led him to a safe and lovely little spot where he could stay away from the town where there would be little if any food and where a king and queen were seeking to kill him. So he settled down and made himself comfortable. He didn’t need to worry because he knew that God was caring for him.  Sure enough, the next day the birds were back with the most tasty ousels in their beaks, and they kept coming every day with food.

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Days, weeks, and months passed without a drop of rain. It got so bad that even the little brook stopped flowing with water and Elijah wondered what he should do. God told him to go to a place called Zarephath where a widow—meaning a woman whose husband had died—would help him.

So Elijah obeyed and went to Zarephath, no doubt wondering how he would recognize the widow. Well, he didn’t have to worry much longer because as he was nearing the city, he saw a poor woman gathering sticks and he thought, I wonder if she might be the widow, but should I bother her? She looks so weak and tired. Then he changed his mind and decided it wouldn’t hurt to at least ask. So he went to her and said politely, “I wonder if perhaps you might provide me with some food as I’m hungry and have none.”

The widow didn’t even dare to look up at him. “I’m sorry that you’re hungry, but I only have enough food for one more meal for my son and myself. I’ve come out here to gather sticks so that I can make a fire and cook one last meal. After that we’ll just have to wait to die.”

Elijah looked into her eyes and said, “Would you please give me just a little piece of bread first?”

The widow looked up at Elijah for a long moment, and in that minute she knew in her heart that he was a man of God— or a prophet. She also knew that God was testing her, to see if she would show kindness to a stranger. So she looked up at the prophet, nodded her head and said, “We’ll share what we have.”

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Gratefully Elijah followed her to her home where a room on the roof was offered to him. Then the widow went to her kitchen and made a nice little loaf of bread for him, and as she was about to close the empty jar, she noticed that some flour was left over. That’s strange, she thought, I felt my fingers scraping the bottom of the jar, and here I find enough for another loaf! So she made another loaf for her son and herself. The next day the same thing happened, and the next after that and on and on it went. It seemed like a joke, yet her jar always had just enough for another loaf. By then both she and Elijah understood that God was providing for all three of them.
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One day, however, the widow’s little son got very sick, and then suddenly, he died. His mother was so upset she just wanted to die herself, but when Elijah heard about it he went and picked up the little boy and brought him to his own room and laid him on his own bed. There he leaned over the child and prayed to God, asking Him to heal the boy who was all the family the widow had left. Then he noticed a flutter of the boy’s eye-lids that soon opened wide. The child now smiled and reached out his arms to the prophet who picked him up carried him downstairs to his Mom. “Oh thank you, thank you man of God, she said as tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy.

“Don’t thank me,” Elijah said, “Thank God.”

“Oh I do, I do,” she said.

“God has rewarded you for your faith and trust in Him, Elijah said. You proved it by helping me when you had so little.“

“Yes,”  the Mom said, as her son hugged Elijah, “God is so good.”

 

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