An Interview with Karen Woodall on The Widow of Zarephath

Today's interview comes from Karen Woodall of, where she shares her journey through her writings in order to help people see:

"[their lives] in the context of God's story and to realise that He is purposefully at work in every 'swtitchback' (those big and small direction changes in life) to draw [them] more deeply into His love"

Read on as she expands upon her admiration for The Widow of Zarephath and what we, as modern women, can learn from her.

Who is your favourite woman of the Bible and why? What would you say that modern women can learn from her?

I don’t know if she's my favorite woman of the Bible or not, but I really like the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17.  Not as many people are as familiar with the story of this desolate widow as they are some of the others in the Bible, but it’s a challenging narrative nonetheless.

The widow's brief story of faith intersected with the Prophet Elijah’s journeys near Israel during a ravaging drought. He approached her with what seemed to be an inconsequential request for a drink of water and piece of bread. Ironically, though, she was gathering sticks to build a fire for her last meal as the drought had emptied her home of everything but a small amount of flour and oil. She therefore had only enough to make a last loaf of bread for her and her son. Not surprisingly, this widow hesitated at first, but agreed at the prophet’s urging. 

This woman gave up much more than a snack. By sharing her last loaf of bread, she effectively laid down her life- and the life of her son- to sustain the life of Elijah. In jumping to the conclusion of the story, we find that it ends with a miracle where her flour and oil never ran out but, at the time, she didn’t know that, that was going to happen. With no access to the scripture or any of the privileges afforded to the children of Israel, she believed the word of God through His prophet and acted on them.

What a challenge this kind of devotion should be to us as New Testament believers who, in contrast to her, have unlimited access to Scripture and the Holy Spirit living inside us.  How is it we still question and doubt God, and choose to make decisions based on emotion or circumstantial evidence instead of simply believing what He said? We need to learn to be like this humble widow, consciously and faithfully, yielding our whole lives and offering to Him whatever He asks; regardless of what it may cost us.  

Please finish the sentence: I am a Christian woman who is...

I am a Christian woman who is on an ongoing journey to know God more deeply and love Him more fully.  

Please finish the sentence: I am a Christian woman who is not...

I am a Christian woman who is not settling for “normal” Christianity. I am convinced that God is always at work, in every situation, to call us out of where we are and into something more fulfilling than what we can orchestrate for ourselves.  

Any final words of encouragement?

Christian women are often very prone to judge the faithfulness of God based on how we feel about our circumstances and, as a result, turn our backs on God when things don’t go as we’d hoped.  But, the truth is, Christians never have a legitimate reason to give up hope nor cave into the temptation to think God has forgotten us.  Ours is a faith grounded in fact.

Christ’s death and resurrection demonstrated emphatically that we can trust God, and that His love for us never ceases! Because Jesus is alive, we can believe there is hope for a broken marriage... for a wayward child... for a sick friend... for a financial disaster, for example. But this hope goes way beyond the details of our lives working out the way we want them to.

When Christ broke the power of sin and death, He proved that He commands the ability to bring purpose to situations that seem purposeless; give meaning to what seems meaningless and bring good out of situations that seem impossibly bad to us (Romans 8:28). Because Jesus is alive, sin and death are defeated and hold no power over His followers. Even in the midst of our pain and sorrow, He graciously offers us abundant life, confident hope and certain peace that can be ours in this life and for all eternity.