by Gail Rodgers
2 Kings 4:1-7 (The Widow’s Oil).
She was desperate. A widow with two young boys. Her husband had died leaving her with debts she could not pay. Oh, he had been a good man, even a religious man. And she had tried hard to make the payments. But today her purse was empty and her cupboard was bare. News had come to her that his creditor was demanding payment and was coming to take her two boys to work for him as slaves in order to pay off her husband’s debt.
In desperation she ran to the house of Elijah. He was a “holy man”, a prophet, a man set apart by God. The local minister of the day. He knew her husband from the religious community where they had worked together. The young widow cried out her anguish to Elijah. “My husband is dead,” she sobbed, “and you know he was a man that revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves”.
Elijah asked her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“I have nothing there at all”, she said, “except a little oil.”
Then Elijah told her to do a strange thing. He told her to “go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled put it to one side.”
Knowing the little oil she had in the house, this woman could have easily written this strange advice off as the impractical thoughts of a religious fanatic. But she didn’t. She had a faith of her own and a situation that truly needed a miracle. So off she went with her boys to collect jars. And not just a few! Can’t you just imagine the murmur in the neighborhood as this young mom and her boys knocked on door after door with the question, “May I borrow any spare jars you have?”
Then when they had plenty, when their table was covered and the ground around as well, Mom shut the door behind her and her sons. She reached up into the cupboard for the small bottle of oil and began to pour. One jar filled, then two, then three. The boys brought the jars to her and she kept pouring.
Imagine the excitement growing in that little home as each jar is filled from the small bottle. Imagine all the jars on the table full and the boys begin to lift the ones off the floor. Mom glanced into the little bottle. Still some oil in there! She smiled at her boys and they smiled back. A quiet excitement grew as they realized they were witness to a miracle, a private demonstration of God’s mercy and grace. A quiet miracle that could only happen because of the faith and obedience of a Mom who took the risk.
“Bring me another jar”, she said to her son. But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
In excitement the woman ran back to Elijah’s house and told Elijah what had happened. Words must have tumbled out on one another as she recounted the miracle. Elijah said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
How the neighborhood must have buzzed as mom and her boys lugged the jars down to the market and sold the oil. How faith must have grown in the hearts of the woman and her sons as the coins collected, jingling in her pocket. How grateful she must have been as she thankfully paid off the pursuing creditor.
How well she must have slept that night knowing she had a God who could do miracles. She had a God who cared about her and her two boys. Yes, she had a God that could be relied on. How thankful she must have been that she had taken the risk in collecting those jars when she knew she did not have oil to fill them. What a miracle they would have missed!
Imagine how she and her boys would recount the story over and over to one another in the years to come. God can be relied on!
The God of yesterday is still the God of today. The widow’s God is still the same God that cares about you and your kids. He is still in the business of miracles. He still looks for hearts that will trust Him, hearts that will take the risk of believing and obeying.
If you need a miracle today go to God and ask Him for His help. Find a Godly person to pray with you. Believe in Him, obey Him and watch Him work.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“You are the helper of the fatherless” Psalm 10:14b