I don’t know about you, but the quarantine is leaving me feeling a bit empty. Being with my friends and church family is one way that I get filled back up after pouring out. Today, let me introduce you to a woman who also felt empty. We’ll start with a sign I saw posted on a telephone pole…
A sign was posted on a telephone pole by the grocery store: “LOST DOG with three legs, blind in left eye, missing right ear, tail broken, and recently castrated. Answers to the name of Lucky!”
Perhaps you feel just about as “lucky” as that lost dog. Hobbling along. Impaired vision. Broken tail. Well, you get the picture. There was a woman in the Bible who also felt like she was out of luck and had nothing to give. But then God showed her how to fill up so that she could pour out. Her story is found in 1 Kings 17, and it begins with a man named Elijah.
Elijah was a good prophet who gave some bad news to a king named Ahab: “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1 NIV). God knew that news would not go over very well with the king, so He told Elijah to flee eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine east of the Jordan. For several months, Elijah drank from the brook and ate bread and meat delivered by ravens that God miraculously sent to feed him. Only kings could afford to eat meat every day; God provided the very best for His servant.
Sometime later, the brook dried up. Now, if God could supply meat and bread every day, He could have easily provided water. But God had a different idea. He sent Elijah to Zarephath to a Gentile widow who needed a miracle in her life.
Elijah did as the Lord said and traveled to this widow’s home. But he didn’t find a woman with abundance ready to provide sustenance. What he found was a destitute widow who had given up on life. When Elijah arrived, she was stooping to the ground picking up sticks and placing them in a bundle.
“Excuse me,” Elijah called, “could you please bring me a cup of water?”
As she turned to fetch the traveler a cup to quench his thirst, he continued. “Oh, and can you bring me a piece of bread?”
With this request, I imagine the woman sarcastically grumbled, And would you like a lamb chop to go along with it?
“I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug,” she said. “I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die” (1 Kings 17:12).
Now that was a discouraged, empty woman! But Elijah had good news for her.
“Don’t be afraid,” Elijah said. “Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land’” (verses 13-14).
She went away and did what Elijah had told her.
Can’t you just see this woman taking the last bit of flour and oil to make Elijah a meal? What does it matter? I’m going to die anyway. So what if it is one day earlier.
She emptied her flour bowl and oil jar, took a little cake to Elijah, and returned home. As she goes to wash the dirty dishes, she picks up the jar and the jug and her senses are jostled! The jar is full of flour, and the jug is full to the brim with oil. She was an empty woman, but as she took what little she had to offer encouragement to another, God filled her up.
I call this the Bucket Principle. I believe that each of us is given a bucket of encouragement that we are to pour onto those around us. Click & Tweet! As we dip out of our bucket and pour onto others, God miraculously fills it back up.
Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). Many times, we place a lid on our bucket of encouragement. I don’t have enough to give to someone else. I am drained dry, we moan. However, when we give, even in our emotional emptiness, God fills us back up.
What happened to the woman from Zarephath? “For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah” (1 Kings 17:16).
Dear Lord, I’m feeling rather empty today. Rather than feeling sorry for myself, show me someone I can encourage. Give me the words to say and the courage to say them. I pray that as I give encouragement to others, that You, Lord, will fill me back up. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Even though we’re homebound right now, think of one way you can pour into someone else’s emotional, spiritual, or physical bucket? Leave a comment and let’s make a list.
My best-selling book, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others and Bible study guide are being re-released with new content, including a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated! Pre-order before April 21, 2020 and receive a free downloadable e-book of Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence plus a Powerful Words Bundle! Click here for details.
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. Learn how to
- exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
- recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
- overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
- tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
- stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold into the power of the Holy Spirit