I have a Little Oil in a Jar and a Packet of Flour: Should I Give?

“Mum, I’m hungry!” The boy’s voice was weak as he looked at the mother for some food. It had been several years of drought, and there was no hope of the situation ever changing. The boy’s father had died years back. There was no hope for them other than eat what they had and die. What was there to eat? A little oil in a jar and a packet of flour could help bake bread.

Just like any other mother, she was determined to save her life and the life of her son till the last moment.
 But for how long would she do this? There had been no rain, and the clouds were not promising either.

Would the little oil in a jar and packet of flour be enough to carry them even two more days? She is troubled in her heart since she has no idea of where and when to get food.

Her eyes full of love, she looks at her son and assures him that she would prepare a piece of bread for him. “Or should I just tell him that this is the last meal we have?”

She is not even sure if to explain to her son that there is only a packet of flour and little oil in a jar remaining. The love for her son gives her the energy to walk out of the house to fetch firewood to bake some bread.

While she is busy fetching firewood, an old man, holding a staff, approaches her home. She looks at the man trying to figure out if she had seen him before. They exchange greetings. And the stranger introduces himself:

“I’m Elijah, the prophet of the Lord. I’m the man who decreed that there would be no rain in Israel for three and a half years! Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”

She turns to get some water. But there are so many questions in her mind as she walks away. “This man declared that there would be no food in Israel and so it was. Now here he is! What will happen if, Ahab, the king of Israel hears that he was here? Again, where will I get more water to make bread?”

As she walks away in deep thoughts, the man calls out to her and says, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

“Well, this man cannot be serious,” she says within herself, “He is the prophet who prophesied that there would be no rain! He knows that there has been no rain for months here in Zarephath. How, then, is he asking for bread from me? Well, let me tell him there is no food in the house!”

She bows her head before the man of God and says, “As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don’t have any bread-only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. 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.”

But the man is not willing to hear any of those.

Whether there is only a little oil in ajar or not, he knows things will turn around at his word.

But the woman’s voice can tell that she is troubled and afraid. So, Elijah gives her some hope:

“Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first, make a small cake 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.”

She feels regenerated, strengthened and thankful. But would the son be in a position to understand anything even if it was repeated to him a thousand times? Well, she chooses to keep quiet and does as instructed by the man of God.

She walks inside the house and drops the pieces of wood she had gathered on the floor. Though her body is weak, she feels much better and stronger than the previous days. Why? She feels convinced that as long as this is the man who had stopped the rain, then, there must be enough flour and fat as he had told her.

She quickly picks the jar of water and walks out to the man of God. In a little while, she is back in the house to prepare a small cake for her visitor. All this time, the son is watching the mother get in and out of the house but has no idea of what is happening.

He has been inside the house since he is too weak to play outside. Minutes later the mother is making the cake, and he feels comforted.

It does not matter if it is the last meal or not, but as long as he can see it, he is grateful. Seeing that it is ready, his face brightens up and sits down on his bed to eat. But something happens; the mother walks out carrying the cake.

“Oh, No! Something must be happening,” he says within himself and gathers himself to walk out of the house. Slowly but carefully, the mother is walking towards a stranger and hands over the cake to him.

After she has handed the cake to the man, she turns to go back to the house. Right in front of her, she sees her son. She walks a little faster to console him since she could tell from the boy’s face that he was disturbed by what was going on.

Ready to explain the whole thing to him, she holds her son’s hand, and gently they walk inside the house.

Holding each other‘s hand, they stand still after entering the house.

The jar of oil is full and the packet of flour as well! Was she even going to explain anything to her son at this point? She lets go of her son’s hand and walks out in excitement. Stopping right in front of the man, she falls at his feet.

She is crying, but crying out of joy.

She gives a ton of praises to the Lord and gives thanks to the man of God too.

A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, had been poured on her lap.

So, there was food every day for Elijah, and for the woman and her family.

Sometimes you give so much and think you have lost. Remember, as long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest time will never cease.

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Originally published at mary-peter.com.