When You Feel Empty

Sharon Jaynes Confidence in Christ, Expectant Living, Power of Words, Trusting God 39 Comments

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. 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.

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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

Comments 39

  1. Now is a perfect time to develop better relationship with my oldest son. He’s a teenager now, so I guess he does what teenager does. Feels how they feel. I have very little understanding to his feelings, emotions and odd behaviors. He can be rude, careless in what he says, hurts others with words and actions, especially towards me.
    I do need to empty my heart of hurt, rejections, loss and anger to replace with love, kindness and words that inspires and encourages others.

    1. Hi Kaytee,
      You are absolutely correct, he is being a “teenager”. I have been through it – with my 24 yr old and now again with my 12 yr old.
      However, if you stand firm in your love and create ways that will bring you together and take this time to listen to him. Let him talk while putting a puzzle together, playing a game, painting a picture, etc.
      Love never fails and always remember that you are raising a young man that will be a Father and Husband one day. You are the reflection “right now” of what he will choose as a wife and also how he will be a daddy to your grandkids 🙂
      Be encouraged.

    2. Hi Kaytee!

      You have the most wonderful opportunity a woman can have…motherhood. Whether it be biological, through adoption, nurturing a niece or nephew, a friend’s child. The possibilities of nurturing a child are endless.
      God didn’t say knowing Him would take away our problems or pain, but help us deal with our trials in a different light., His light. His light through prayer, seeking the spiritual gifts of love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, self control. to deal with the negativity we encounter. Galatians 5:22-23.
      The beauty is you know God and have a positive outlook and know the steps to take…Lift up your woes to the Lord, develop a relationship with your son. Replace your pain with words of gratitude, of healing. Philippians 4:3-8
      There are programs with the Church e.g. Celebrate Recovery, a 12 step program assessing the root of what your son is going through and youth programs would be an ideal way to develop that relationship. Proverbs 22:6
      You seem to have the answers. Do not delay in following those steps. You seem to be a loving and caring mom. You can handle this cross. Blessings, Maria ❤️

  2. Sharon such encouraging words at this time of uncertainty in our world this the time for each of us to think of others. We are all experiencing something unchartered and that’s a comfort to me. God is in control of all things even this virus and when we get through this our faith will be stronger and we will see Gods finger all over. Thank you and bless you and your family Sharon. Hedge of protection around us all. Diana

  3. How timely, God is an ontime God. It is something I have to work on all the time. You always get to be around people like you or ones that make you feel bad. So my self-help is getting me to be the person others want to be around. Thank you for this.

  4. I didn’t have a close relationship with my former mother-in-law. It was a relationship in proxy, if you will. Yesterday, I reached out to her and her sister in an email wanting to touch base and find out how their families were doing in New York and Texas. They replied and it opened up for good conversation about the Bible in light of the pandemic. In context, I encouraged them and spoke blessings over them. I also praised them for their commitment to foster care and education respectively. Lastly, I spoke about the Family wall in our apartment (it’s just my 13-year old daughter and I left at home), how we have a photo of their now deceased parents there with my daughter, and that I would love to add photos of their growing families.
    I never felt accepted, much less loved by them, but I felt it important (I don’t really understand why now) to communicate without words to them that although her son (and her nephew) and I are no longer married, that they will always be family to our daughter, and that there is a place in my heart and home (even if only in photos) for them.

  5. Right now, the whole world is overwhelmed, we are dinking from the cup of Gods fury! But I want us to hold in to Gods word in Rom 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.. Also in Is 54:10 – For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee… For He will never leave us nor forsake us! Amen.

  6. Send cards of encouragement or that share a little sunshine of laughter…it’s uplifting to receive a card of encouraging words in the mail for no reason other than to cheer someone’s heart.

    1. Amen Debbie! Just yesterday I received 3 cards in the mail from 3 grandkids. Brightened my day! HUGE positive impact on my mood!!! Send cards to others!!! And pray the postal service doesn’t shut down. 🙌🏼❤️🙏🏼😊

  7. This was an awesome read. During these times we can’t use what the enemy has engaged in the outside world to get discouraged and fearful but rather use this time to refill so that we can pour out to those that need a word of hope. These are the times that we should use for one anothering. Thank you for your pouring Sharon. May God continue to bless your life in ways that you never imagined.

  8. I loved this! It made me cry!! I have been feeling like that woman and yet, your words encouraged me to give, to pour out on someone else that I may be filled again. A good measure! Pressed down and shaken together!! Glory be to Our Great God who lifts us up again and again!

  9. I’ve got a bit of time off right now, so I’m being intentional about reaching out to people in my social media community who need encouragement. You can message or even call someone who you sense is struggling. I’m going to get a couple of addresses from our church secretary to write notes to older members who aren’t online. I can do a little extra for my husband and daughter, who are working through this crisis. A special meal or help with a chore can brighten their day. And always shop the grocery store with a smile, thank the staff for all they do! (Even if you couldn’t find toilet paper)

  10. Wow thanks for this very comforting and uplifting devotion with the reminders that God does provide for us always even in this time when we are faced with this ugly monster – the COVID – 19. I am enjoying and being comforted by all of my online devotions. You are reaching and encouraging lots and lots of people even if they don’t take time to tell you.I very much liked the picture of the beautiful flowers – there is still beauty in the world.May the Lord bless you and keep you and Your family in His everlasting arms.

  11. Thank you for your words this morning. My kids and I were planning to make cookies for our friends and leave them on doorsteps today (drop and run so we don’t actually interact with anyone) with an encouraging note to stay positive and we can do hard things. I contemplated all night whether or not we should leave these little “happy’s” but reading this today, now I know we definitely should!

  12. Thank you so much for your encouragement in very anxious times. I am going to encourage others today to Keep their eyes in Jesus not what we see with our eyes. We are going to make it to the other side of these times because Jesus is in our boat amen. God bless you today❤️✝️🎼🌈

  13. Thank you, Sharon. You are so right…in being a blessing to others we are being blessed as well! A good reminder 😊

  14. Dear Sharon, Thank you for sharing this message of encouragement. We all can hold each other up during this trial. I am sad that my daughter-in-law in focused on the loss of “high school graduation, planned trips etc.”. It would be far better if she could share with her children thankfulness. (they are living in a nice home, have plenty to eat etc.) So many are suffering from this virus. Our president and family is under attack continually. I am in prayer for them. Keep pressing on.
    Much Christian Love,
    Cheri

  15. Sending hand-written notes of encouragement during this pandemic. I wake up, journal, pray and then write to whomever God places in my heart.

  16. Beautiful. Although it’s been a draining couple of days His Presence fills me. I’ve stopped and thought of others more and sending a simple text and when there are no words “❤️“. It has lifted me to reach out. But more importantly it’s given people peace to know that they are prayed over.

  17. Amen. God is our MIGHTY fortress, the ROCK on which we stand. As we obey with the guidelines our government officials have put in place to limit the spread of this virus, we can take time to be still and know that HE is God. I pray we will listen for His voice, and believe HE will calm the storms that tend to rise up in our souls. We have a loving God we can be certain of. He is in control of all things. We may question why He allows things like plagues to exist, but we must believe that He is working and longs for each person to surrender all we are to Him. He does not demand we “get it all together” before we come to Him. He created us, He knows each of us personally, He sees us and loves us as we are. Nothing is hidden from Him. We can bring Him all our sin, our concerns, fears, questions and our struggles and in His great love and mercy He will meets us where we are. I pray that we use this time to love others with the love He has loved us and to pray that our world would turn and seek Him. For such a time is this!!

  18. Hi Sharon, thanx for reminding me to be a channel of blessing to those in need around us. May God bless u in all that u trying to encourage & uplift our spirits.

  19. Thank you for this devotional! I am like the women in this story but I send out an encouraging text message to my children and a few friends every day! I have someone who does the same for me. It is not much but is just a little something.

  20. Elijah received meat! This is such a wonderful provision from God.
    I have used the week to call many people, to connect and see how they’re doing. This has led to great opportunities of reminding them or sharing with them the peace and provision of God. Two way phone conversations are rare, but not a single person has cut our talks short or failed to return my call. I have been blessed to reach out to others.

  21. I love this Sharon. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for taking time to dip into your encouragement bucket to pour into mine. I shared your words of encouragement with a sisterwho has been poured out dry and feeling empty. She is now sharing your words with others. You dip, I dip, she dips, we all dip into our buckets.

  22. I really enjoyed this story and was so encouraged. I have a prayer group of 12 women and will be sharing it with them. Thank you!

  23. Thanks Sharon for your timely message. I am one who likes to encourage others but I’m feeling quite flat at the moment. I really needed this message to encourage me to keep going with God’s goodness and strength. God bless. Di

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