Elijah and the Widow – I Kings 17

How do you respond when your eyes tell you one thing, but God’s Word tells you something else? In this passage we see instances where circumstances seem to contradict God’s promises, and we can observe how people respond in those situations. Faith is the act of trusting God even when it doesn’t look like God is going to show up. Faith requires us to trust God’s character more than we trust what we can see.

Activity – Optical Illusions – locate some pictures of optical illusions, and study them with your kids. Is there something they see that isn’t really there (like a circle that looks like it’s moving when it really isn’t)? Or is there something there that they can’t see (like a woman blended into the picture)?  Does something look shorter or longer than it really is? We can’t always trust what our eyes tell us. Sometimes we must ignore what our eyes are telling us and instead believe another, truer reality. Our Bible passage today provides a number of instances where the true reality is what God says, regardless of what the people in the story saw. Discuss all the parts of this story that were surprising.

  • If you were comparing a king and an unknown prophet, whom would you pick as the more powerful? The king But, in this story, who had more power? The prophet, Elijah, had power from God to STOP rain for YEARS!!! That’s a lot of power, and the king was powerless to stop God’s plan!
  • God sent Elijah into hiding in the wilderness. There God provided him with bread and meat every morning and evening by sending ravens to feed him! A nearby brook provided him with water, but then, the brook dried up! If God sent him there, why would God allow the brook to dry up? Hear kids’ thoughts but in the end, point out that our God knows exactly what we need. Yes, Elijah needed food and water, but initially he may have also needed solitude and rest. Later he may have needed human interaction. We can trust God to give us what we most need and to position us where we need to be to get what we need.
  • Next God sent Elijah to Sidon, the home of wicked queen Jezebel, where her father ruled and served the false god Baal.  Why would God send Elijah to a heathen country and to THIS country in particular? There’s no right answer here, but it might be an indictment against Israel that no one could be found whom Elijah could trust with his life. It might be evidence that God sees, knows and cares about people everywhere, not just His chosen people, so He went to great lengths to send Elijah to the Sidonian widow. What a great picture of the way God searches out people who need to know Him!    
  • What about this Sidonian woman? Would we have ever expected God to send his prophet to a heathen woman in a heathen country?? It’s not likely, but God is doing big things in the heart of this woman. Notice that God tells Elijah to “go at once.” Elijah needs to get to her before she dies. Right from the start, she acknowledges that the Lord is Elijah’s God. (Perhaps this is because Elijah’s name means, “The Lord is God”). She encounters her first test of faith when Elijah tells her to make a cake for him first from her little bit of flour and oil; then, she can make one for her son and herself because God will not allow her flour and oil to run out until rain comes to the land. Why do you think the woman believes Elijah, whom she had just met, and this God from another land? We don’t know. Maybe she had heard of the God of Israel and longed to know Him for herself. Maybe she was disappointed with the false Baal gods of her homeland. But we know that faith was stirring in her heart. 
  • Day after day the widow made bread for Elijah, her son, and herself, and the oil and flour never ran out. Do you think as the widow lifted the lid off the flour jar, she ever wondered, “Will there be enough flour today?” And, day after day, when there was always enough flour, what do you think happened to the woman’s faith? You would think it was growing.
  • At this point, God sets one of His great faith-building plans in action, but His plans aren’t what we would expect at all. He brings great trouble into the woman’s life. James 1 tells us that troubles, which test our faith, actually can help us to become mature and complete. The woman’s son gets sick, sicker, and sicker until he quits breathing. The woman blames Elijah, who cries out to God, who answers Elijah’s prayers. At that point, the woman says, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth!” After all those many days of God’s faithfulness to provide flour and oil, God’s resolution of a tragedy is what finally provokes the woman to make a declaration of faith. What about our kids – have they experienced tragedy (or near-tragedy)? How did they learn about God in the midst of their troubles? If you have a story, this could be a good time to share about a time your faith was strengthened through hardship. 
  • Our God is a faithful and tender Provider. Only God can work good through both good and bad things that happen to us. Only God can give us exactly what we need when we need it. We can trust our God completely. We must speak truth to ourselves, especially when circumstances seem to indicate that God isn’t working. The truth is that our God is always working.

Additional questions:

What did you learn about God/Jesus?

  • God has a plan that is good.
  • God is a faithful and loving provider.
  • God uses troubles to grow our faith.
  • God wants His people to care about those who are far from HIm.

What did you learn about people?

  • People can tell others about God and pray for those who are in need.
  • People who are evil cannot stop God’s good plans.

What did you learn about yourself?

  • I want to pray for others who are hurting.
  • I want to remember that God is faithful, especially when my circumstances are tough.
  • I want to care about the things that are important to God.
  • I want to remember to repent quickly when I fail to please God.