Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing

She said, “I swear, as surely as your God lives, I don’t have so much as a biscuit. I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die.”

Elijah said to her, “Don’t worry about a thing. Go ahead and do what you’ve said. But first make a small biscuit for me and bring it back here. Then go ahead and make a meal from what’s left for you and your son. This is the word of the God of Israel: ‘The jar of flour will not run out and the bottle of oil will not become empty before God sends rain on the land and ends this drought.'”

1 Kings 17:12-14 (The Message)

Or, as Stevie Wonder said, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing“.  Go ahead and listen to that song; it’s one of my favorites for musical reasons as well.

What I’m trying to figure out here is: if God already intends to keep the biscuit jar full, why is Elijah insisting that he eat before a woman and her son who are one meal away from dying of starvation?  It seems to me it would have been more generous—and downright humane—to say “Go ahead and eat your fill, and then if there’s anything left for me, I’ll accept it gratefully.”  I mean, Elijah has been eating whatever the ravens brought him (and I can’t imagine it was eggs benedict), but he’s been eating.

But I’ve been having a hard time recently believing that everything will be okay.  One of my favorite couples appears to be divorcing.  We’re all still grieving the loss of Devin on his 19th birthday.  It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Jodi’s first choice of profession simply doesn’t have many jobs available, and probably won’t for a long time. Our landlord nixed the idea of another couple moving in with us here to save on rent, and my credit is rather poor these days, so moving elsewhere could be challenging or unprofitable.  Further from home: there could be a decade’s worth of oil left to spill in the Gulf, humanitarian supply ships to Gaza are being attacked with deadly force, and there are still people dying young of diseases either preventable or yet to be cured.  One longs wistfully for the Cold War, when the threat of all-out nuclear warfare held out at least the prospect of an instant denouement.  Of course, I’d much rather see things improve, and it stands to reason that probably they will.  But I used to believe they will.

I can at least take comfort in the knowledge that we’ve got enough food to make it to payday — enough even to make biscuits for company, if we had any.

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