I find it interesting that the title of this story is, “Elijah Helps a Widow.” It seems to me the widow helped Elijah just as much. Maybe a better title would be, “Elijah and a Widow Help Each Other.” No one person is greater than another, really. And no one person can survive in this world without another.
My husband likes to watch those survival shows. He tells me there is at least one where the survivalists are completely isolated from the outside world, even capturing their own stories on cameras so there are no camera crews around. They survive alone as long as they can, until only one is left. What breaks them, finally, is not the lack of food or shelter. It is the isolation that slowly turns them mad. They give up when the isolation becomes unbearable.
We were all created with gifts. We were made to share those gifts and to welcome the gifts of others. I have heard that newborns who aren’t cuddled and nurtured develop significant physical and emotional challenges as they grow. We were born to be in community, to be loved, to be touched, to help each other, and to accept help from others. Humanity works because we need each other.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.