All she needed to do was make a single cake.
The fire cracked and snapped beside her, as she carefully measured out the remnants of flour and oil. For days she had watched as the supply dwindled, numb to the reality of what was ahead.
They would die.
With nothing to eat, nowhere to go, no provisions — the end was inevitable.
Mechanically her hands went through the motions of kneading, flipping, pressing and rolling. The elasticity of the dough taking shape on the board resisted her stretching, just as her mind resisted his words:
“Don’t be afraid.”
How could she trust him? Appearing out of no where, he had asked for water and bread. Such a simple request, yet so difficult for her to fulfill. She had considered lying to him; giving up their last repast without acknowledging the sacrifice. If they were going to die, would it really make a difference?
But her son, how could she watch him die? Already he had grown too thin, the impact of living in a time of famine taking its toll on his young frame. Once he had run and played with joy, now his energy was extinguished and his eyes haunted.
Could she trust the word of this man, that the Lord would come through in her time of need?
“Don’t be afraid.”
How could she be anything but? Three years, not a drop of rain had fallen on their land. Searching the skies for a sign of relief, she had watched as the life had vanished from around them. Dust and decay were all that remained.
Yet, he was a prophet. They say he hears directly from the Lord. Could it be possible? That what seems depleted could still sustain life? The jar still looked empty, the jug dry. But he had said:
“The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.”
Could it be true?
She placed the cake, their last meal, on a plate. Carrying it to the man, she prayed that her hands would not shake as she set it before him. Her last hope, their only sustenance, her final act.
She returned to the fire, wondering when her hunger would devour the gnawing pains in her stomach. How long would it take, and what would the end be like?
Lifting the jar to return it to its place, almost as an afterthought she peeked inside. Maybe she had miscalculated, and there would be enough so her son could eat. Tipping it upside down, a small pile formed on the board.
Could it be true? What had He done?
Checking the jar, she discerned a trickle of oil. Just enough to satisfy her and her son. They would get a last meal.
Once again, kneading, flipping, pressing and rolling, she formed two little cakes for them. They would live a little longer.
From that day forward, each morning, afternoon and evening she formed three little cakes — for herself, her son, and the man — always wondering if the supply would finally run out and, yet, believing that it would last.
“Give us this day our daily bread…”