My Cruse of Oil

When Elijah requested “a morsel of bread” from the widow of Zarephath, she responded, “I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse.” She explained that she was about to prepare a final meal for herself and for her son. Elijah told her not to be afraid. If she would make him a “little cake” first, she would not run out of food: “For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” The widow did as Elijah instructed and received the promised blessing. (See 1 Kings 17:8-16.)

God didn’t need the widow to feed Elijah. He was clearly capable of providing food, and her small offering was immaterial compared with the blessing she received (and which she desperately needed.) Like the loaves and the fishes, she gave what she had, and God made it enough.

During Jesus’ post-mortal ministry on the American continent, He introduced the sacrament twice. On the first occasion, He instructed his disciples to obtain bread and wine. When they returned, He used the bread and wine they had secured for the ordinance (3 Nephi 18:1-3). But the following day, when He administered the sacrament again, He didn’t ask for bread and wine. He provided it Himself. “Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude; but he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink” (3 Nephi 20:6-7). Why did He request bread and wine the first day and then provide it miraculously on the second day? Maybe sufficient bread and wine was available the first time, but there wasn’t enough available on the second day. Maybe the faith of the multitude was stronger on the second day, so they were prepared for the miracle. Regardless of the reason, these events demonstrate that we can’t second-guess how much we will be asked to give and how much God will provide.

Sometimes we have sufficient resources to fulfill a need. Sometimes we have enough to get started. Sometimes, the Savior provides it all.

I often find myself in the situation of the widow. I have enough to get started, but I can’t see how I’ll be able to finish what needs to be done. Taking the first step—pouring some oil out of the cruse—is the act of faith that enables me to receive His grace.

Today, I will give what I have and trust God to make it enough. I will remember that God sometimes requires us to give what we can as an act of faith before He provides what we cannot do for ourselves.

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