Lent Day 21 – Something from Nothing

by Bishop Robert Barron

The God of the Bible creates ex nihilo, from nothing, and this is incomparably good news. It applies not only to creation in the grand metaphysical sense but creation in a spiritual and physical sense as well.

The story of Elijah and the widow of Zarapheth demonstrates this. It was a time of drought in Israel, and Elijah is desperate. So Yahweh gives him instruction and invites him to trust. But the Lord sends the prophet to about the least likely place of succor: to a widow in a town outside of Israel’s borders.

Widows were practically helpless at this time, and indeed when Elijah asks her for something to eat, she says that she only has enough for one more meal for herself and her son. But then comes a mutual act of faith. Elijah trusts that God must have sent him to the right place, for he asks for her to make him a cake. And she trusts in him and does what he asks. What happens? The flour and oil do not run out for a year.

Both the prophet and the widow were in dire straits and both found what they needed. But the story goes on. Elijah stays with the widow and her son, and the son becomes deathly ill and finally dies. The widow—already bereft of her husband and now without any means of support, emotional or financial—despairs and lashes out at the prophet.

But once again, as she is striking bottom, the prophet asks her to trust: “Give me your son,” he says. Elijah takes the young man upstairs and cries aloud to God. Then stretching himself three times on the child’s body, he supplicates the Lord again. And the young man came back to life!

An absolutely hopeless situation became a place of hope. Not only did the young man come back to life, but the widow regained her faith.

If you feel hopeless or despairing this Lent, remember that God can bring something from nothing.


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  • Anton D

    Comforting words. Thank you.

  • jesspinosa

    Hopeless? Despairing? These words are not in my vocabulary anymore, since I have come to realize and accept that Jesus is in charge. He is my hope and He is my antidote for despair. JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!

    • Vilma


    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      You are truly blessed

  • Becky

    Trust Trust Trust!
    God Bless You All!

  • Mary Hilchey

    Trust in the Lord – Fear not. I needed to remember this.

  • Lori Bisser

    I love how Gods word is vast in its message! Thank you Bishop Barron for your wisdom.

  • ber

    Good morning everyone many blessings on your day. It’s not unusual that God touches people exactly when they most desparing you have to be emptyed of yourself before he can act its tough and not a nice place to be even then you must accept his help you have to trust and that can be hard for most of us. I found it myself when on my own unable to help yourself I wasn’t bitter I was desperate but day by day he thouth me how to go a little further until I could make it on my own it was a good lesson that without him I cannot make it on my own but first you must loose your pride (I can make it without him )even today I could not keep going without him and I say to anyone if you find yourself in such desperate situation call Jesus help me he can not resist and will hasten to help you or will send someone who wil. we are brothers and we need each other it may be a smile a phone call a prayer or just a cup of tea it all counts

    • Mary

      You are so right!

  • Alicia

    I remember one major time in my life when I surrendered to God, it was on August 23,2011. I was done, I couldn’t go on any longer because I was tired, no exhausted from pushing and pushing “my will” in my life. God, He seemed so so far away from me. Lying face down on the floor, in pure darkness, I cried out to the Lord, as I grab hold to the smallest thread at the bottom of God’s cloak, holding with every bit of desperate strength I had, ” oh Jesus please God, I don’t want to die, please God have Mercy on me, help me. The dying that I spoke of was not my flesh but of my soul. Time stood still as I lay on that floor, until I finally rose with clarity and conviction of what I needed to do. I joyfully surrender each day to God for I only live because He Wills it. I will never forget that day, the day I gave my body, mind, emotions and soul to Our Beautiful Creator!
    Glory be…
    to the Father
    the Son
    and the Holy Spirit

    • Vilma

      God bless you! As Jesus says in Scripture “your faith has saved you!”

    • ber

      Bless you Alicia as iv said iv being there too in one way I wouldn’t wish it on my enemy but another its wonderfully to experience the lord lifting you up you never forget that you go forward only by the grace of God thank you for shearing bernie

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell


      Been there! A dark night of the soul wherein the only way out is up, seeing and experiencing Jesus in a way that words cannot express, a Love that envelopes you in a way that has no equal! The mystical union of God and His creation!

      Thank you for sharing!

      The Prayer Warrior

  • Nancy Rynders

    Whenever I feel like I am struggling, it helps to keep the struggles of others in mind. Then, I pray for myself and for them, that we will trust in God’s plan. That’s what Elijah and the widow did – they both trusted God in their suffering, and were greatly rewarded.

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      Nancy sometimes I feel this way. Sometimes I cannot pray for myself. But if I pray for others I feel that God is listening. Sometimes people say that they knew I was praying for them then I can pray for myself.

      • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

        Hi Barbara,

        What a blessing. The Holy Spirit assuring you your prayers are affecting others in such away that they know from where the prayers were coming from!

        One Sunday morning just before Mass I was kneeling behind a very dear friend of mine who was termanially I’ll with cancer. She did not have the strength to kneel. She was so blessed by God I could feel it. This particular morning I could feel she was somewhat depressed so I gently touched her shoulder with my hand and felt peace come over her. I had not said a word.

        After Mass while talking to her I had a word of knowledge, telling me to ask her a question….. “Is there something you want tell to tell me”?
        She said “Not that I know of,… Why? I said “I guess I was wrong. No big deal”. Then, after a moment of silence she said, “I was feeling bad this morning until you touched me. At that moment an angel came from behind me to comfort me”.

        I thanked the Lord for giving her peace, but I had no idea the Lord would deliver it through an angel.

        You never know what God will do when you pray only that He will act because you asked.

        Peace and prayers,


        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I know a certain person is in need of prayer. Then I will pray for them. One time that happened and that person told me she was accepted to a clinical trial that was much needed.

          • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

            Hi Barbara,

            Very interesting but not unfamiliar to me.

            I have heard, several times, a vocal voice, as if the person was standing beside me. A little unsettling to say the least.
            I always sensed a need for prayer for someone at that moment. I was told by others who experienced the same thing said that God choose such persons who He knows you will pray

      • Elizabeth

        Barbara Ann, I can affirm that people know you are praying for them. At a traumatic time in my life, I knew my Aunt was praying for me and that I was upheld. Knowing the importance of prayers by others, is my I am involved in our church’s intercessory prayer group. People call in to the parish office, we collect the names, or their is also a prayer basket in the adoration chapel. We have had many miracles over the years. And when we do pray for others we also receive a blessing from God.

  • Jane

    I love the way God works, I am being taught to pray with more confidence and trust. To set myself and my way aside and see what God our Father will do. Today’s reflection is a great example of this. When I feel the situation is hopeless I remember what our Lord did for Saul on the road to Damascus. Absolutely nothing is impossible through Chist! Have a blessed day everybody.

  • ladycatnip

    Good morning. I am so blessed by the encouragement and wisdom of Bishop Barron through the Word of God. I offer up to the Lord my own hopelessness and despair, believing all things are possible with Him; there is nothing too hard for the Lord, and no situation is beyond His reach.

  • Vilma

    True comfort! Something out of nothing – amazing and true. I see it in my own life when I trust – God makes himself known in the way things work out for good! Thanks be to God! http://www.shepherdoffaith.com

  • EiNap

    This was a beautiful reflection by Bishop Barron on the story of Elijah & the widow of Zarepath. Could you believe I only knew 1/2 the story? Thank you all for your sharings and reflections. I am going to re-read them & meditate. It is a good way to start and center my day.

  • concerned citizen

    Thank you Bishop Barron. I like this passage from the Old Testament. As they say, it is darkest before the break of dawn. Its when you are down and helpless, that’s when God comes in and shows you that nothing is impossible to Him. This situation must have happened to me countless times.

    Why does God allow these things to happen to us? To make us realize that He is in control and not us. It is also to make us turn to Him. St. Augustine once said, prayer is an expression of desire for God. So the more we need Him, the more intense is our prayer. Have you not wondered that when everything is going alright with you, that your prayer becomes lukewarm? Because those were the times your need for God was not strong.

  • Patrick Cassidy

    I recently had a relapse in what I was fasting from this Lent. I am trying hard not to despair, but have faith in the Lord that He will help set me back on the right path. Even if we faith the size of a mustard seed, then we are able to have trees uproot themselves and move.

    Trust and lovr the Lord with all your heart, mind and being! Even with death is at our door, let us cling to the cross of salvation!

    • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

      Fasting is no big deal. Just think of it is dieting for God . 😇😎😎 Tell make an emotional big deal thing as learn the hard way that doesn’t work.

    • ber

      Patrick its not the falling its the getting up again don’t give up

  • Mary Jane Madeline

    Thank you Bishop Barron for another expanse on the Gospel . Details are meaningful. I didn’t remember the prophet staying with the widow and her son and ending in his bringing him back to life. More than a prophet would be called to do, except ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE POWER OF GOD, WHEN WE BELIEVE! Thank you Bishop Barron for focusing on the details.

  • Maripat

    I do believe. I am hanging to something and praying to all my beloved Saints. I have come to know many and I pray to them everyday. My prayer is for something to happen out of nothing. I can’t give up on this and I know God will answer my prayer.

  • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

    Learning the hard way surrender is the word . Not to just surrender is despair and hopelessness. I have an understanding that giving is also the key. Enough said

  • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

    Good Morning,

    When you go on a road trip with Jesus be prepared to see situations you have never seen before, go to places you have never been before, experience feelings you have never felt before and see the Lord move in the broken lives of others you have never met before.

    Are you ready to let the Lord drive, to lead the way, to trust He knows where He is going even though you don’t?

    It is certain there will be times you will want the Lord to let you drive and though He may let you, He is still in the car with you.
    When you get lost because you turned off on a side road He is there to guide you back. When you have an accident, a soul shaking experience, He is the physian on call, the therapist who counsels you when things don’t go your way, Who embraces you when you loose a loved one, holds your hand while you walk through the uncertainties of life together!

    Jesus is your drivers education teacher. Without His help you make very little progress.

    The Father has a plan for you, a road He wants you to travel. Jesus is your instructor and teaches you how to drive on that road. The Holy Spirit is the Fathers “gps” which guides you as you travel througbh life. Three Persons Who want tip get yipu back home safely and for eternity.

    There are many roads and each takes you to a different place.

    Will you take the less travelled roads on which God sends you or will you travel the roads you want?


    The Prayer Warrior

    • Elizabeth

      Michael, the lyrical way you present what our mission is in our journey of life with our 3-in-one God gives us hope for the trip. Confidence and faith in God. Thank you.

      • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

        Hi Elizabeth,

        When I was in college, shortly after graduation (at 54) , I was talking to my advisor who told me something I didn’t realize all those years.
        He was my main theology professor, with a PhD, . A good friend and blessed husband and father, told me this.
        ” In all my years of teaching and of all the students I have known and taught, I have had a student like you”!. Puzzled by that statement, I asked him what he meant.
        He said I had the ability to teach scripture in such a way that anyone could understand it.

        I was speechless! Jokingly, yet serious I said, “You mean that reason I went to school for 8 years, run up a student loan bill of $72,000 to learn to do what your saying I could already do”? He said “Yes…. It is a gift “!

        If memory serves, it was you Elizabeth told me that my story like writing was an Irish trait.

        Thank you and God Bless!


        • Elizabeth

          Yes! Michael I do recognize and affirm what your theology professor let you know years ago. You are a blessing to us and I thank God for your gifts from God.

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      Your image of Jesus as a drivers Ed teacher made me laugh. I flunked drivers Ed in high school twice.
      They had to give me a diploma because you can’t deny a kid who has A’s and B’s in all Academic Subjects for two F’s So I went to college with a diploma no drivers license. At the age of 27 I took driver training at an alternate school. Well when Jesus finally knocked some sense into my stubborn head through cancer He also took away my ability to operate a car. My guardian angel gave a great sigh of relief. Well no more dangerous trips for me either spiritually or in an automobile which I operate.

  • Michele Vandover

    Father, I do feel hopeless. While I have a deep spiritual relationship with the Holy Spirit and our Holy Mother…. Here is the problem I have spoken to our priest several times, as a remarried Catholic, I long to be able to fully participate in the the Mass. I quit drinking eight years ago, this when I began rekindling my relationship with the Lord. I ordered a Rosary and a card with all of the prayers. I began saying 4-5 Rosaries, now 1-2. My husband and I had begun sleeping in seperate rooms as brother and sister. That is our current status. My priest said I am in grave sin and unforgivable. I asked him if I were less forgive able than Charles Manson, and his answer was yes. I left depressed and hopeless. I asked him, aren’t me and people like me, why Jesus came to be with us and die on the cross?
    He couldn’t end the meeting fast enough. So I guess I am looking for hope around every corner.

    • ber

      Michael your stories touched me I have to say I admire the way you have tried to live the gospel it can’t be easy I’m sure you are most pleasing to the lord as you try to please him and live his way I think you were treated badly and given bad advice when you should have being encouraged on you path I believe you are walking with the lord don’t give up he is watching your efforts and they won’t be dismissed maygod bless and enlighten you blessing

      • Michele Vandover

        Thank you so very much for your kind words and guidance. I will forge ahead with faith in the Lord! His will be done.

        • ber

          May the lord reward your efforts I will remember you in my prayers

        • Mary

          No priest I know of would ever say those words. Please find another priest. I have had an annulment and I am able to continue receiving the Eucharist etc. God bends over backwards to forgive! Read the popes book THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY.

      • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

        Go elsewhere. I bet five bucks this dear Bish here would tell you the same. Find a way to get an annulment if needed. This sounds like spiritual abuse.

    • Dude_Abides

      Michele, you said “My priest said I am in grave sin and unforgivable.” Hard to believe a priest would render a statement like this without offering some form of path to a solution. Maybe a second opinion from another priest at another parish? Perhaps you may have just gone to a priest who is personally uncomfortable with that type of situation. After all, they are human too.
      Another suggestion, if there is a Catholic Services located in the town you live in which offers family/personal counseling.

      You also stated “I asked him, aren’t me and people like me, why Jesus came to be with us and die on the cross?”
      ABSOLUTELY, it was Jesus’ primary mission. Our Lord will never fail or fall away, as he loves you and is all-merciful; he is always at your door knocking – all you need is to open it.

      There are two quotes from the venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen that I would like for you to think about (sorry for being long winded and taking up a lot of electronic ink here :-) ).
      1st quote:
      “Love is a vicarious principle. A mother suffers for and with her sick child, as a patriot suffers for his country. No wonder that the Son of Man visited this dark, sinful, wretched earth by becoming Man – Christ’s unity with the sinful was due to His love! Love burdens itself with the wants and woes and losses and even the wrongs of others.”

      2nd one – note this is one of my most favorite quotes from BFS book ‘Life of Christ’; describes the day on Calvary when the thief to the right of Jesus asked for his forgiveness (he would later be known as St. Dismas).

      “A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life; a man without possessions asked a poor man for a Kingdom; a thief at the door of death asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise. One would have thought a saint would have been the first soul purchased over the counter of Calvary by the red coins of Redemption, but in the Divine plan it was a thief who was the escort of the King of kings into Paradise. If Our Lord had come merely as a teacher, the thief would never have asked for forgiveness. But since the thief’s request touched the reason of His coming to earth, namely, to save souls, the thief heard the immediate answer:

      ‘I promise thee, this day thou shalt be
      With Me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43)

      It was the thief’s last prayer, perhaps even his first. He knocked once, sought once, asked once, dared everything, and found everything. When even the disciples were doubting and only one was present at the Cross, the thief owned and acknowledged Him as Saviour.”

      We will pray for you Michele and your husband, God bless!

      • ber

        Very inspiring words dude and good advice

        • Michele Vandover

          Thank you so very much for these wise words. To clarify, I asked in a comparative way about my ability to be forgiven because our area has a prison ministry that is very strong and I totally support it. But I felt the need to put my self with those other sinners out of humility. God Bless those sinners as they have found faith through forgiveness. I must keep aiming for that narrow gate with what I do now. God Bless you all for your kindnesses.

    • Anton D

      This is a sensitive topic I know nothing much about. I hope what I say here does not upset / offend you. If it does I sincerely apologize.

      Regarding being ‘less forgivable’:
      Do we have to compare ourselves to others? We should not, simply because others are not the standard by which we have to live.
      Our standard should be Jesus Christ who is Just and Merciful and His Church which has declared this year as a
      ‘Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy’ by Pope Francis.

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell


      Listen closely. The only sin that is unforgivable is the sin against the Holy Spirit. That is “not believing in God”.

      Find another priest right away. The Catholic Church has prpigrams concerning this very subject that is moire common then you think. From what you have said you have started on the way. If you have remarried and your previous marriage has not been a mulled, then seek that out. If you are not having intimate relations than sleeping in separate rooms, that makes a great difcerence.

      You need to find a priest who has the theological background in these matters. Contact the diocese in your area and ask for help in getting back in tune with the Church.

      Please do this and know you both are in my prayers!

      The Prayer Warrior

      • Michele Vandover

        Thank you Michael!

    • Gary

      The Lord forgives all who repent.

    • concerned citizen

      Michele, today is the Year of Mercy. This is the best time for you to go to a bishop and have a talk with him. He will guide you as to what to do. But one thing you must remember, is that if you truly love your husband, then you will do whatever is not sinful for both of you, for it is the salvation of his soul and yours that matters. Have trust in the Lord that everything will go alright eventually for those who love Him and obey His commands.

      • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

        I don’t know what the deal is with your marriage and the particulars but get to a canon lawyer who is in good standing with the church. Just do that. Find out what the particulars of your situation and see what you need to do. Big issue: don’t panic and trust God and just don’t be over over scrupulous because if you do, that is worry and no trust in God.

        • concerned citizen

          Amen to that, Tampa.

          • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

            Would not a canon lawyer or someone who is an expert be able to tell her what the deal is? The big q is this. Tell them whether you got married the second time by a non churchperson or a church person. If it was a non church person, then that is a civil marriage. Ask a canon person if the church recognizes that marriage. And is your first hub dead or alive? These are the issue to talk about. OK? No panic. Holy logic .

          • concerned citizen

            I may be wrong, but I think a canon lawyer would only be advisable to go to, if your previous marriage had grounds for annulment. But if clearly, there are no grounds for annulment, I think a wise spiritual director would be a better person to talk to. But I may be wrong, because I never had experienced this kind of situation.

    • Elizabeth

      Michele, prayers for you as you recognize priests are human and sometimes as Dude-Abides mentioned. there are a few things you can do to be made whole. I pray you love, peace and eventual joy as you follow in Jesus footsteps. Amen

      • Elizabeth

        I would also add, praying is not just saying words, Heartfelt prayers are what Jesus wants. You heard Jesus knocking on your soul. Invite him in. One prayer I would say as I was going to my special ed class. I passed my Catholic Church on the way, I would hook my arm and say, “Come with with today and be with me as we face the challenges together. Amen

        • Michele Vandover

          Thank you , I like this and it offers comfort as I say it out loud.

    • concerned citizen

      Michele, you may have misunderstood your priest. I may be wrong of course, but what your priest may have said, is that as long as you continue to live together, he cannot give you absolution, because it only means you are not truly sorry for your sin. He is assuming of course that you are living in a state of sin. But if you explain to him that you promise to live as brothers and sisters and not do the act, I think he will give you the absolution.

      However having said that, there is another sin that is committed when two unmarried people live together. And that is, the sin of scandal. There may be people looking up to you as model and they may get the impression that cohabitation is alright and follow your example. I am not sure whether the sin of scandal is a grievous sin. This you have to ask your confessor or spiritual director.

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      Are there any Monasteries in your area that offer retreats for Catholics in this kind of relationship? You might attend such a retreat. Since you are clearly not communicating with your priest. You need to find another priest who can communicate with you.

    • Kate-Mary

      Michelle, find another priest.

  • Corine Richenelle

    Thank you Bishop Barron for sharing this Gospel with us today. This month, I was invited to visit a family in Montreal where oil is coming out from all her statues and the lady is giving this Holy Oil to all visitors as she has been blessed by the Lord as well as her sick daughter. When she was explaining to us how this oil started to pour from everywhere and I asked her that may be she can put the oil in a jar in her kitchen so that she will never run out of oil as she is unemployed as well as her husband. (At that time, I was thinking about Zarapheth and his son). This history gives us more faith and trusting that wherever we may be, God`s arm is long enough to reach us where we are by sending our neighbour on our way.

    Open our eyes, Lord to see you in our neighbour as sometimes we keep on asking God to help us but when he send someone on our midst, our heart are closed and our eyes shut. Open our hearts and mind Lord. Help is on the way :- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYI9WeMLXD01

  • April H

    Jesus, I am seeing my sister’s leap of faith and I am cheering for her, supporting her, loving her here in this moment. Letting this be. In Your Loving Name, Amen

  • Corine Richenelle

    Today`s reflection, invite me to read again this Gospel as my brain remembered only the first part…when Elijah asked to cook him the cake but I did not remember that he stay with them and rise the son from death…this is awesome. Thanks for this sharing and those who believe in words of our Lord and have faith in our Lovely Son.

  • Barbara Ann Baugh

    This is the year of Divine Mercy. The mercy of the Lord is boundless. It is that from which all things flow. To have this mercy we have only to trust in the Lord.

  • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

    It is 6:02 pm in the east coast and thank you God we made it through the day. I am praying for the rest of you before I go and walk the beagle or the Beagle walks me. Keep trusting folks. You are a good group . NIce.

  • Marilynn Pavlov

    It is so hard to trust God and to let go of the control you think you have, yet, when you can let yourself do just that, good things happen. I have had it happen in my own life and each time I am amazed all over again. (I am not on Facebook. I am posting from Bishop Barron’s site :)

  • Patricia Anderson

    We know, yet we need to be reminded.

  • kayeloney@cox.net

    Our Lord is the Lord of Miracle’s. Jesus I Trust in You. Jesus I believe I trust and I Love You. I ask pardon for those who do not know you, and do not believe in you..

  • rtclovesmac

    The fact that I am is something out of nothing, a gift of love and life not earned, but freely given for His purpose.

    The times I have become lost or distracted or prideful are nothing compared to the Mercy He as shown me which is something.

    We are nothing but dust in the wind except for the offering of His life for ours which opens us to life eternal.
    Now that is something!

    Thank you Lord Jesus, I trust in you!

  • Linda Dokey

    My Lord Jesus Always helps me through the valleys in my life. I trust that He will get me through to where He wants me. Thank you Jesus for All the Blessings You give. Amen ♡

  • Christine Gloria Catherine Whe

    I have a friend who has been going through a very rough time for several years! I can’t remember a time when she did not share the trials she is going through. Her husband has been diagnosed with dementia, her 20-year-old daughter sometimes becomes angry and violent. When I sent her prayers and spiritual readings she always thanked me. But this time, this is what she wrote recently. I have been praying for her and pleading with God to give her some relief. My friend is nearly 65 years old and not in the best physical health. I would ask Bishop Barron to pray for her. Here’s her note:

    I am very tired and irritable. My hands are hurting from the repetitious movements I have been putting them through for 8 weeks solid, no let up!! (She is referring to her work with the elderly who are ill and bed ridden)

    Bye for now,

    P.S. Hope all is good with you! Sorry, I haven’t been reading your Lent stuff. Not interested!! All you do is stress me and make me feel guilty!!!!!! Haha!!

  • Michele Vandover

    Lovely, a perfect story.