50. Giving Despite the Circumstances

In Your Bible Read This Out Loud: Genesis 26:1-15

Memorise This Verse: Psalm 126:5

Afterwards Talk About This:  Why those in the bible who gave in very bad circumstances received such good rewards.

Something To Do Before Next Time:  Read again about the poor widows who gave in 1 Kings 17 and Luke 21:1-4

Written Diploma Work:  Write one side on the people in the bible who gave in adverse circumstances and reaped a harvest.

Meditate Word By Word On This Verse:  Genesis 26:12

This section will consider giving when you are in a period where money is short and the temptation arises to stop giving – certainly a lot of people will experience this at some point in their lives. This section will encourage you to keep on giving despite the circumstances and having seen the biblical examples of people who gave in tough times, you will come to the conclusion that the one time you need to give is when times are bad.

The bible gives many examples of people who faced a tough situation and had to make a hard decision about whether to give or not (the same choice that most of us will have to make at some point in our lives). Wherever people chose to give their obedience was rewarded and the bible shows in several places people gave in the tough times and reaped blessings.

The first example is that of Abraham who was faced with a very tough decision of giving something even more precious than money and that was his son Isaac. Previously, God had promised to Abraham that he would be the Father of many nations (Genesis 17:3), and after having a son by his maidservant Hagar, his wife Sarah miraculously gives birth to a Son who is called Isaac.

Out of his two sons (Ishmael and Isaac), God said to Abraham in Genesis 21:12 that it would be through Isaac that his offspring would be reckoned, however in Genesis 22:1, God tests Abraham and asks for Isaac to be sacrificed. Abraham faced a situation that made giving his Son seem a ridiculous decision but he obeyed God and chose to give and as a result God honours his gift and returns Isaac back to him – it paid Abraham to be a giver of a large offering in a tough situation.

A marvellous thing that happened to Abraham was that his decision to be a giver passed down to his Son Isaac and he is the next person who chose to give in a tough situation – the story is related in Genesis chapter 26. Verse 1 shows that there was a famine in the land but the Lord speaks to Isaac and tells him to remain in the land and he will be blessed – Isaac resists the temptation to go to Egypt and stays where he is.

In verse 12 Isaac faces a choice in a time of famine should he hoard his grain or should he sow it in the distant hope of a future harvest :- the obvious choice would be to hoard his seed. Isaac chose to prove that his God was alive and sows his seed in the time of famine and reaps a hundred fold harvest and verse 13 shows that it was no freak harvest – Isaac’s wealth continued to increase until he became so rich it aroused the envy of the Philistines. Perhaps you are experiencing a famine in your finances, like Isaac you will have seed that you can either sow or hoard Isaac chose to sow his seed and he triumphed over his circumstances.

The third example of someone giving in a particularly tough situation is the widow of Zarephath who ministers to Elijah, the man of God – the story is related in 1 Kings chapter 17. Verse 12 shows that she and her son are on the point of starvation and they expect to die – all they have is a handful of flour and a little oil. Elijah makes what appears to be an outrageous request when he asks this starving woman to use what little food she has left to make him a meal – the widow had to choose to be a giver in a very tough situation.

Elijah delivers the word of the Lord to the widow that if she obeys and gives Elijah the food then her small stock of flour and oil will not run out no matter how much she uses it. As she obeys the word of the Lord and chooses to give she receives back a multiplied blessing and her store of food never runs empty even though she faced a tough situation she chose to be a giver and received a miracle in return.

Having looked at a widow in the Old Testament who gave in a very tough situation we can also turn to the New Testament and see another widow who gave in a tough situation the story is related in Luke 21:1-4. As the financial gifts were put into the temple treasury, the poor widow out of her poverty put all she had to live on into the treasury – a fact that caught the eye of the Son of God.

It could be the case that she was unaware that anyone knew how much she put in – let alone that Jesus actually saw her put her offering in moreover, she certainly was unaware that her offering was to be recorded in the scripture for all eternity. Just as Jesus knew about the widow’s tough situation and commended her for her giving, he also knows about your financial situation and will commend you for your decision to give and your giving will catch the eye of the master.

Too many Christians give the pathetic excuse that they cannot afford to tithe and obviously think that these poor words will be a sufficient excuse on Judgement Day when Jesus looks at the way they have handled their money they are in for a rude awakening. The starving widow of Zarephath gave away her food and the poor widow put all she had to live into the treasury – you certainly don’t catch either of these widows claiming that they cannot afford to give.

If anyone could hide behind the argument about not being able to afford to give it would be these two ladies but they knew better than to offer up such an obnoxious argument and they got on and gave and received the reward. Is it not the case that on judgement day, the giving of these two widows will frightfully expose many respectable ‘Spirit Filled’ and ‘Full Gospel’ believers who claimed all their lives that they couldn’t afford to tithe.

The final example of giving in the tough times is the believers of the churches of Macedonia who gave sacrificially to the offering for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem – as recorded in 2 Corinthians 8:1-15. Verse 2 shows that these believers not only gave a substantial gift in the midst of ‘extreme poverty’ but they also had overflowing joy in doing so – how often do you hear that these days! Moreover, in the midst of their ‘Extreme Poverty’ verse 3 shows that they gave even beyond their ability to give financially clearly they knew nothing of the ‘I can’t afford to tithe’ attitude of most Christians.

So, the examples of Abraham, Isaac, the widow of Zarephath, the poor widow and the Macedonian believers all show that when they choose to obey and give to God in a tough situation it sparked a miracle in their situation. Psalm 126:5 says, ‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him’. The bible never says that tough financial situations exempt you from giving but as people in the bible sowed seed when times were bad and their mind told them not to, they reaped a triumphant harvest with which to laugh at the devil.

A House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations

Pray for Indonesia

212,991,926 people, 80% Muslim

Most populous Muslim nation but Islam being rumbled by spectacular church growth.


This study contains the personal beliefs and practices of of the author who recommends them to the reader. The author takes no credit for their success where applied and likewise takes no responsibility for any failure or disappointment.

The House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations at the end of each section is based on Operation World 21st Century Edition © Patrick Johnstone, Jason Mandryk. Published by Paternoster. All scriptures are NIV © Hodder & Stoughton.

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