The renowned pastor Harry Ironside once told the story of a Christian widow who lived in Scotland. Her husband’s untimely death had left her with several small children to raise, and money was forevermore tight. Through it all, though, she kept her heart fixed upon the Lord and taught her children to trust in Him at all times.
There came a day, however, when the woman’s cupboard was almost totally bare. Despite her best efforts at frugality and money management, all she had left was a handful of flour. And so what did she do? Like the Bible’s widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16), she scrapped up the last of the flour from the bottom of the barrel, determined to use it as best she could to feed her children.
But as the sound of the scraping reached her ears she couldn’t help but begin to cry. Normally she was plucky and full of faith, but her situation had never gotten quite this desperate. She was at the end of her rope, and she had to admit to herself that she felt totally forsaken by God.
As she stood there crying hot tears, her little boy Robbie walked over to her and tugged at her dress. He looked up at her in mild astonishment as if he could hardly believe that she was crying. Then, in his thick Scottish dialect, he said, “Mother, what are ye weepin’ about? Didn’t God hear ye scrapin’ the bottom of the barrel?”
The boy’s loving rebuke brought the mother under conviction as she realized that she wasn’t doing a very good job of living out all the preaching she had done about trusting in the Lord. So, she stood up straight, dried her tears, and reasserted her faith. And did God reward her faith? Yes, He did. Shortly afterward help was provided from a completely unexpected source.
I don’t know why God so many times chooses to scare us to death before He comes through for us. I suppose He figures that’s the best way to build our faith. I think about Moses and the Israelites standing on the shoreline of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army breathing down their necks (Exodus 14:1-31). I think about Naaman having to dip seven times (not six) in the Jordan river before his leprosy was cured (2 Kings 5:1-14). I think about the apostles’ boat filling up with water to the point of almost sinking before Jesus woke up and calmed the wind and sea (Mark 4:35-41). As someone has said, “God is never late, but He sure does miss numerous opportunities to be early!”
Maybe you are scraping the bottom of your barrel right now. You’ve cried out to God in asking Him for help, but as of this moment He still hasn’t met your need. What should you do? Keep scraping the bottom of that barrel and rally your faith as best you can. Remember, many of God’s finest deliverances are of the “last second” variety, and His delays are not the same thing as His denials. Be like David, who confidently says in Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (lack).” You see, the sound of the scrape is actually a good sound if God has to hear it before He meets your need.