Dictonary.com defines the word hopeless as “providing no hope; beyond optimism or hope; desperate”.
While this definition sounds depressing at best, I’d venture to say, we’ve all felt at one time or another that we’re at the end of our rope, as if there’s no hope in sight, no way out … desperate even by life’s circumstances that are beyond our control! Can you think of a time in your life when YOU felt hopeless? Can you picture it? Are you almost able to feel the hurt in your heart just thinking about it?
Hold on to that feeling for a moment…
Hold on to that feeling for a moment, because that’s exactly where I think today’s leading lady was when she’s introduced in 1 Kings 17. We first meet the widow at Zarephath as Elijah approaches her city upon God’s instruction that a widow there would supply him with food. Upon arrival, Elijah sees the widow and immediately asks for a drink of water. She doesn’t even get out of sight and he also asks her for bread.
Here’s where that gut-wrenching feeling I asked you to hold onto a few moments ago comes in, as she responds with such hopelessness…
“I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive 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.” 1 Kings 17:12
As I read about the widow, I couldn’t help but equate her to today’s single mom. She had been left alone to care for her son in a time of severe hardship throughout her city. It seemed she had been merely “surviving” for quite a while and she knew her time was up as there was literally nothing left!
She was completely hopeless.
Having been a single mom myself for several years, my heart broke when I read her story. Oh how I could relate to her desperation as she uttered the words aloud that she’d known in her heart for quite some time!
As a mom, there is nothing I wouldn’t give and no sacrifice I wouldn’t make to be sure my children’s needs are met. There were many times during that season of life when I literally hoped to be able to scrape up enough money to buy a gallon of milk! Had there been spare change to be scavenged from beneath the seats of my car or behind the couch cushions, it had long since been found and spent! Although times were difficult, money was tight and there was no room for extras, God never left us without the necessities we needed. Each and every time I was at the place of desperation, He would send an unexpected gift that would carry me to the next need and so on and so forth.
The same was true of the widow. Just when she found herself completely hopeless, God sent Elijah to her with a promise of hope wrapped up in a test of faith. She was indeed faithful as she sacrificially used what should have been the last of her oil and flour to make a meal, not for herself or for her son, but for a complete stranger she’d only just met.
Because she was faithful to the Lord’s message sent through his prophet, Elijah, He multiplied her gift and provided for her needs.
When we come to the place of hopelessness, God wants us to walk in faith as we look to Him to meet our needs.
The word tells us in Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
There’s a song by MercyMe I absolutely love called “In You”. The very first line of the song says, “I put my hope in you. I lay my life in the palm of your hand. I’m constantly drawn to you, oh Lord in ways I cannot comprehend.”
Who are you placing your hope in? Give it to God … He’s the only true hope when we feel hopeless!
Amber Edwards is married and has two teenagers. While she works as a Paralegal, her true heart is for others. This passion led her to start a blessing bag ministry for the homeless, which affords her many opportunities to share her faith and love for the Lord. Amber grew up in Birmingham and is an active member at Church of the Highlands where she serves on the Events Team and co-leads small groups.