Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Facilitator Notes: Rev. Nicole Duncan-Smith
Through our trust in God, we are able to see community in the
strange lands and crisis-filled times.
The best time to see God’s magnificent faithfulness is when we
fallback and watch the Great Creator during times of distress,
trauma, and crisis. Our Mother’s Day word involved a mother, but
she was not the linchpin of the message the writer was trying to
convey. She did not point directly to God, even as God worked
through her and used her as an operative in His perfect will for Elijah.
The passage was really a universal story about how God works with
His people who dedicate their lives to him. It about how that vertical
relationship is crucial, and how trust must be the foundation of our
In this pericope, there is a drought in the land and God instructs His
servant Elijah to go to a foreign town, where foreign people are.
These people are not just strangers but they also worship idols and
are kinsmen with his enemy Jezebel. Now, Elijah is a holy man … not
a warrior fighter … not a great King or Judge … just a Messenger of
God. The bible doesn’t tell us that he trained to do combat. In the
midrash of my mind, pastor calls it the Holy Ghost imagination, he is
a peaceful man that only pops off when God needs to lay down the
law. In my mind, he simply is not a brute wanting or inviting smoke.
So … to travel to this foreign land was not just uncomfortable but
could have been dangerous. Still, out of obedience, Elijah goes and
he goes because God tells him that He has made provisions. (1 King
17: 9) Just as God had a raven take care of him in the wild a few
scriptures back, God secures his life through another operative
instrument: The Widow.
Through the work of The Holy Spirit, the believer (as represented by
Elijah) came into a space with no control over anything but just the
audacious promise of God that he/she would not forsaken. He spoke
to this woman (who was in her own brokenness and space of need)
what probably seemed to be ridiculous: trust me a stranger and feed
me with your lack. And something inside of her, an urging, opened
her heart to this man and she did as he asked. We know what that
was. It was the same urging the turned Pharaoh’s heart soft towards
Moses. God comes in and does what God does, touching the
outside to bless people in His fold. Without our knowing and without
any obvious and grand gesture, God moves strangers into
community and gives sanctuary to those believers — especially in
spaces of crisis.
We see God working this way and here is the life application and
* Elijah trusted God to provide all of his needs, even when it
seemed like God was moving him in a space that was uncomfortable
and in a situation that seemed improbable to work out in his favor.
Have you ever been pushed into a space where you were
uncomfortable and but you know that God was going to be with
you? Where your trust in God had to overcast your fear of
uncertainty? That’s growth muscle. If you are not there, don’t worry,
you can push towards it.
* Elijah moved in obedience to God but PAUSED to allow God to
make a way. Elijah could have entered into the town and got a job,
became a beggar, looked for another Israelite, but he did not. He
listened and did what God said, even if it sounded like it might be
crazy. Think about that voice that comes to you telling you to do
something that just doesn’t seem possible. Are you exercising the
trust muscle in your relationship with God and allowing God to lift
the weight for you — letting God organize the spotters around you?
A lot of the times the spotters have nothing in common with you and
seemingly have less going on with you. God uses the people you
would least expect to build your trust muscle.
* God created community. The scripture talks about this woman
taking care of Elijah by opening her home and resources when he
had none. But because she was a widow, and she and her son were
alone, it is not hard to believe that having someone around filled a
void that she might have been missing. God is showing us to be
open to community and not to underestimate what your presence
means to someone else. In a community, if you got the bread, I
might have the butter. You might have the fire, but I have the put.
We can bring something to the table and live in our crisis and chaos
together. That is how we survive, looking at the community that God
sets up for us and not being upset that it does not look as we would
have designed it.
* Lastly in the scripture, we see the death of her son and her
lashing out at Elijah and Elijah going to God to ask for support. What
could that mean to us? Part of building our trust muscle and
understanding this vertical relationship with God (needed to have a
horizontal one in community) is giving the problem to God to fix any
uncertainty in community, especially when you are not the naturally
fitting person in the community. So many times, we find ourselves in
spaces that society says we should not be but God has placed us in.
We are searching for community and God provides that and we are
successfully co-existing and thriving: what happens then? We think it
is our might, it is us. I referenced Moses earlier and that history is
important here as well. Moses did not make it into the Promise Land
because he took credit for the community building efforts that God
did. Everything that Moses did for the people in the wilderness was a
trust muscle exercise that should have pointed them to The Creator
and their Deliverer. But he did not always (though he did most of the
time to be fair) say “this is done by God’s might.” And he suffered.
Elijah learned that lesson. And when there was a problem in his
community, in this case, a child had died, he went to God to fix it.
God restored life to a dead but important element of Elijah’s new
community. To this point be clear: All things are not forever. But
when God gives us community and there is a problem or a death to
an important element of that community, PAUSE, before you
abandon it. Hand it over to God and see if there is a resurrection
that only God can through His grace and mercy can restore.
Thank God for the widow and son for being available to God’s Spirit
and Urging. That is so beautiful that God can use people outside of
our natural fellowship to bless us. But also, let’s celebrate obedience
and trust in the believer — for in our times of struggle (crisis, even
now COVID-19) — God will hide us in the secrets of his tabernacle
and most of the time that is community. Trust and watch and see.