A retelling of 1 Kings 17:8–16

“Have you something for me to eat, something to drink?” the unassuming stranger asked. “I’m weak from hunger and weary from my journey. Please, I beg you.”

My heart reached out to him. I felt the same hunger pains. Zarephath, where I lived, was like wherever this man had come from—in the grip of famine. I too was weak and weary. I too needed someone to rescue me before I perished.

I had almost nothing, and he was asking me to give him what little I had. If I’d had only myself to look after, I would have given him my last morsel without a second thought. I had given God plenty of reasons to turn His back on me. But what about my little boy, the light of my life, whom I adored?

“Come. … Of course, come in,” I answered haltingly. “But, you see, I have nothing to give you. I have only enough flour and oil to prepare one last meal for my son and myself before we die. We were gathering sticks for the fire when you came up the path.”

He was a handsome child, but gaunt now from having eaten very little for several weeks. A smile lightened his lips. He always had a smile. “Mother, I have found some sticks, too. The wind caused them to fall in the night. They will make a nice fire.”

The man looked deep into the child’s eyes. “Surely, the Lord has led me here,” he said.

I looked over at my boy, his curly brown hair tousled by the stiff breeze. His eyes were fixed on me, the way small children look at their mothers with expectancy and trust.

“Do not fear,” the man said. “Make me a small cake first, and then make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God, ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’”

I went to the shelf and took down the oil jar. It was light in my hands, nearly empty. Why was I doing this for a stranger? It didn’t make sense.

“Light the fire, my son, while I make the bread.”

I took the sack of flour from its bin. It too was nearly gone. As I kneaded the dough, a strange thing happened. Energy returned to my hands. My feet felt light as I took it to the oven. There was something different about this bread.

I struggled to ignore my hunger pangs as the room began to smell of freshly baked bread, and I avoided my son’s attentive gaze.

The man reached for the bread as I offered it to him. He held it up to God and said, “Lord, bless this food You have provided, and bless these hands that have prepared it.” He turned to me and smiled. “Now make for yourself and your son.”

“But I have just used the last…” I hesitated. His eyes told me that I should just do as he said.

“Son, hand me the flour and the oil.”

The boy’s eyes were filled with wonder as he handed me the flour. The sack was heavier than it had been in days. Then he passed me the oil jar, and as he did, oil splashed on our hands. Our hearts, like the jar of oil, were full to overflowing.

And God was true to His word. What had once been only a handful of flour and a few drops of oil kept the three of us alive for nearly three years, until the famine had passed.