Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.’2Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?’ She answered, ‘Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil.’ 3He said, ‘Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not just a few. 4Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside.’ 5So she left him and shut the door behind her and her children; they kept bringing vessels to her, and she kept pouring. 6When the vessels were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ But he said to her, ‘There are no more.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. 7She came and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your children can live on the rest.’ 2 Kings 4: 1-7 NRSV This story from an Old Testament book is an unusual one. I don’t think we could even comprehend having our children taken and sold as slaves if we did not pay our bills. However, the overall message of the story transcends time. The woman who approaches Elisha is desperate. Her husband has passed away. In addition to grieving, she must deal with other urgent matter. The ruthless creditors have a cruel solution for the woman’s debts: “Give us your children, so that we might sell them into slavery!” Her house had little to nothing left except for some oil. When Elisha heard this, I’m certain he had great empathy for her. He asked the Lord for direction. Through Elisha, the Lord spoke and Elisha came up with an amazing idea. It was a miracle. Then, Elisha involves others to help her. By doing this, he also showed the amazing power of faith in the Lord to those who helped her. Without knowing if this would work, the woman follows the advice of the prophet. She showed great faith. Miraculously, the oil kept flowing until all of the containers were filled. Such oil was obviously a precious commodity, for she was able to pay her husband's debts and keep her children. Some of the lessons for us may include the following: -When you are desperate, ask for help. -God shows others His kindness by helping her. -Sometimes, God asks us to use what we already have, in order to meet an emerging need. -God is the great multiplier. He takes a little of something good, and multiplies it exponentially. In some ways, this miracle is a preview for Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000. -The Lord desires to keep families together, rather than having them split apart and destroyed by crises. In our “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps'' culture, this story about asking for help is a reminder that it is OK to do so. It is all too easy to let our ego’s or stubbornness get in the way. In my premarital counseling with couples who are planning their wedding, I always make a point of encouraging them to seek out counseling, should the need arise. Why? Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Prayer Thank you Lord, for being the greatest of all providers. Your willingness to help me is bountiful beyond my imagination. Help me to find the humility to know that reaching out is not a weakness. Not only do You desire to help me, but You place others in my life to assist me as well. I ask you to help me listen for Your voice. Give me ears to hear when You call me. Also, give me eyes to see when I might be called upon to help others, following the example of the widow’s neighbors. Open my heart to You as well. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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