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The Sound of the Scrape

By Russell McKinney

Mitchell CountyRussell McKinney Mitchell County Roan Mountain Baptist Church

Harry Ironside, the renowned pastor, and preacher, 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 for the family. Through it all, though, the widow 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. So, like the Bible’s widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16), she set herself to scraping up the last of the flour from the bottom of the barrel.

It was then that she experienced a crisis of faith. 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 widow under conviction as she realized she was doing a poor job of living out everything she had been telling her children about trusting in the Lord. That prompted her to stand up straight, dry her tears, and reassert her faith. And did God reward her faith? Yes, He did as her help soon came from a completely unexpected source.

I don’t know why God oftentimes chooses to scare us to death before He comes through for us, but I guess that He knows 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, asking Him for help, but as of this moment, He still hasn’t met your needs. What should you do? You should 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 can actually be a good sound if that’s the sound God has to hear before He meets your need.


Russell Mckinney lives in the English Woods area of Spruce Pine and serves as the pastor of Roan Mountain Baptist Church in Bakersville.

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