Hanging On To Threadbare Hope


She ignored her gnawing hunger as she walked past the fish market and the baker’s cart, smelling warm bread as she passed. Her mind churned on overdrive, replaying the events of the last year. Her stomach now seized with a different pain as memories of her late husband flooded in. What she would give to have those days back.

Everything changed with her husband’s death. No one expected it and, really, she could have done little to prepare for it. Friends had flocked to her home, bringing food and giving condolences at the funeral. But they’d long since gone back to caring for their own families during a famine, leaving her to find her own way.

From the beginning, she rationed stores from her pantry and went without to make ends meet, anything to keep bread on the table. Day after day, month after month, she found grit to keep going, to parent her growing boy through lonely grief.

But today she’d reached the end. Brushing away hot tears, she set about with grim resolve to find firewood and get home.

Bending to pick up a large branch, someone called to her. She looked up and saw a traveler dressed like an Israelite. She’d heard stories of the neighboring Hebrews and their Hebrew God.

“Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” the stranger asked.

She nodded in respect and turned toward the well.

“And bring me, please, a piece of bread,” he added.
His words caught her short. Turning slowly toward him, she kept her eyes on her bare feet as she answered, “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 to make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

The despair in these words is piercing. She could see no other choice. She was out of options. Out of resources. Out of hope.

While you probably haven’t had to gather wood to make a last meal, maybe you know a similar kind of hopelessness as the widow in 1 Kings 17. But hopelessness wasn’t the end of this young woman’s story. God was doing something that far exceeded her difficult circumstances. The stranger from Israel was none other than Elijah the prophet, whom God had sent to this destitute widow.

Though she only had enough flour and oil for one last loaf for her and her son, Elijah told her to first make bread for him.

“For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says,” Elijah relayed. “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land” (1 Kings 17:14).
This was a huge ask. Elijah was asking for all she had.

But the young widow did as Elijah instructed, and afterward, her flour jar never went empty and her oil jar never ran dry, just as God had promised. In fact, there was enough to feed the widow, her family, and Elijah throughout the entire multi-year drought.

Our world of microwaves and cell phones may look different from this widow’s world, but she teaches us three huge lessons on hope.

There Is No Hoplessness In God

Our circumstances never tell the whole story; they tell only what we can see. But the eternal God is our refuge, and always, always underneath are his everlasting arms. You may be facing big unknowns. You may be at the end of your own ability, and you may not see the way through your circumstances. But the end of your rope is the middle of God’s story.

The end of your rope is the middle of God’s story.

First Kings 17 tells us God initially provided for Elijah through ravens, who made a daily bread delivery to him. If that seems crazy, it’s just as farfetched that God provided for Elijah through a woman—and not only a woman, but a widow, and a gentile at that!

As a gentile widow living outside of Israel, she was outside the protections of Jewish law and would have been among the most poor and needy. But God’s resources are unlimited and his timing is perfect. We may not see a way through, but there is never hopelessness with God.

There Is No Lack In God

I imagine this young mom watched her flour and oil dwindle for months. Maybe if she knocked every last bit from the container’s sides and left her oil jar to hang upside down, she’d get just enough to make one last loaf.

Long before she ever reached the place of need, God knew how he would meet it.

Her flour was getting low, but God would send Elijah.

Her oil was running thin, but God would send Elijah.

She began to gather sticks for a last meal, but God would send Elijah.

Right now, in your desperate need, God knows how he’s going to care for you. In fact, God knows how he will meet needs you don’t even have yet.

  • God will provide guidance as you need it.
  • God will provide wisdom as you need it.
  • God will provide comfort as you need it.
  • God will provide materially as you need it.
  • God will provide grace as you need it.
  • God will provide for each circumstance as you need it.
Lisa's article is featured in Issue 4 of Sweet To The Soul FAITH

There Is No Lack In God - But There Are Tests Of Faith

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and he could have hand-delivered one to this woman. But instead, he asked her to trust and obey. She had to give the last of what she had to the Elijah, trusting God’s promise that he wouldn’t let her flour or oil run out until the drought was over.

See, God wanted more than to simply meet this woman’s needs. It wasn’t just that she was physically poor; she was spiritually impoverished as well.

God wanted this woman living in a gentile country outside of Israel to know him as the one true God. He was wooing her.

When she trusted God with everything she had, God provided everything she needed.

And of course, God was faithful to his promise as he only can be. For three years, every time she reached into that jar of flour, there was enough. Every time she poured oil from the jar, there was enough. Every time she made cakes for Elijah, there was enough. When her growing boy was hungry, there was enough.

God provided for Elijah, this woman, and her son when she trusted God with everything she had.

God wants the same for us. When you find yourself at the end of hope and in deep need, God will meet your need—he promises us that. But he wants more for you. He wants to feed your soul and give you eternal hope beyond this life.

There is no hopelessness in God. And while there are tests of faith, there is no lack in God either. The same God who provided for Elijah and this widow in drought and desperation is the same God who is faithful to us as well, if we will trust and obey.
Blessings Soul Friends,


Diving Deeper

  1. Do you find yourself at the end of your rope? Have you lost all hope in your current circumstances? In her new book, Life Can Be Good Again: Putting Your World Back Together Again After It All Falls Apart, Lisa states, “Lots of people survive deep loss and disappointment but stay stuck in bitterness, anger, or pessimism.”
    Do you find yourself in this circumstance? Do you want to flourish again?
    Stop and pray right now asking God to give you strength and show you the way.

  2. Lisa shares “There is a way through your hardship and there is good again on the other side of deep hurt” quoting Luke 1:37, NASB: “For nothing is impossible with God.”
    Do you believe this?
    If you struggle with this, talk to God and tell Him. Don’t worry about offending God; He already knows your thoughts. Then ask God to help you trust that He can indeed make anything possible.


When life shatters and you're navigating a life you didn't sign up for, Lisa provides compassionate, Biblical insight to help you find your footing, process raw emotion and anchor your threadbare hope to see you will not merely survive this, but that life can be good again.

Click on book image below to learn more.
Lisa Appelo is a speaker and writer who inspires women to cultivate faith in life's storms.  Nine years ago, Lisa became a sudden widow and single mom to 7.  She's passionate about rich Bible study and has taught a weekly ladies Bible class for many years.  Grab your free copy of Flourish in Life's Unexpected at LisaAppelo.com  

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