Now and then there is a scare presented in the media that there may not be an ample supply of one product or another. Often, these scares cause a run on the product that is in the news causing hording by some persons. I remember a few years ago there was a story like that about rice. Supposedly, the rice supply was about to dry up because of many environmental factors. This story caused the price of rice worldwide to rise for a while so many people began to stock up on rice and store it in their freezers so that the bugs could not get into it. Not too long ago, there was a story in the news that the same thing was going to happen to olive oil. We use a lot of olive oil in cooking so I bought an extra container of olive oil when we were at the store where we normally buy it. We have an extra amount of olive oil but the story soon disappeared from the news and I have not heard anything else about this. Such a story helps certain industries because it increases the amount of purchases done for these products. Who knows if there is a connection there?
Anyway, shortages have been part of life for as long as people have been living. In the ancient world, people lived just one harvest from starvation at all times. If for some reason, the crop they depended on was ruined by insects or weather or drought, then many people would die of starvation. They did not have the variety of foods we enjoy today. They subsisted on basic foods such as bread as the mainstay of their diets.
Such is the story from I Kings that is our Old Testament reading for this next Sunday. The old familiar story of Elijah and the widow of Zarepheth is one that has been preached through the years but it continues to be one that will speak to us today. Elijah was growing hungry and God sent him to a widow who was very poor. She only had enough meal and oil to make a small cake for herself and her son. After that they would starve to death. The country in which they lived was stricken with drought and it had not rained in a long time. Elijah went to that widow and had the audacity to ask her to make a cake for him instead of for her and her son. She must have been a very patient person to comply with his request or perhaps she simply resigned herself to die and decided that she would just die sooner if she obeyed him.
So, the woman went to the kitchen and made the cake for the prophet. She must have watched him eat greedily wishing she or her son could have a morsel of the food and then heard the prophet tell her to go into the kitchen and make a cake for herself and her son. Don't you just imagine that she thought this old man was crazy?! After all, she had told him that there was only enough meal and oil to make one cake and then it would be all gone.
She obeyed the prophet again and a miracle happened. There was just enough meal and oil to make another cake for that day. She and her son ate the cake heartily and enjoyed having a bit of food in their stomachs once again. The prophet stayed around with the pair for a while later and each day she found sufficient meal and oil to live for another day. That continued until the drought broke and the rains began again to restore the land to producing a crop.
This wonderful old story is about God's providence in our lives. God will always give us what we need....understand, it is what we need, not what we want, necessarily. God will supply our needs so that we may be rich in our spirits and our bodies too. When we pray and ask God to supply our needs, God will always answer our prayers. God may not answer our prayers as we desire for him to do but God will answer them according to his good will for our lives.
I often quote that verse that says, "All things work together for good for those who are called according to God's purpose." (Romans 8:28) This verse does not say that all thing that happen to us will be good. It says that all things will work together for our good. I understand this to mean that through all the experiences of life, both good and bad, God will bring about something good in our lives that will enrich us and sustain us for the future. We may have to endure hardship or suffering (as Paul describes earlier in that chapter and elsewhere in Romans) but in the end our lives will be better because of all that God has done in our lives in response to the lives we live for God.
There will always be enough to go around. There is always enough to share. There will never be an end to God's abundant blessings as we continue to seek God's will for our lives and follow the path in which God leads us.