Her husband was dead and he didn’t leave an inheritance to her and her sons. He left them debt.
The widow went to the prophet Elisha because he knew her husband and she thought he could help her. The prophet asked her two questions: 1) What do you want me to do and 2) What do you have in your house? I’m not sure what the widow was expecting him to do, but Elisha didn’t agree to pay her debt, he didn’t lend her any money and he didn’t suggest praying about her situation. When he asked the second question, she almost missed her miracle by saying she had nothing, but she quickly changed her answer and told him she had a pot of oil. She never mentioned owning a bed, table or chair. Maybe she had already sold these items, but still couldn’t pay off the debt.
Elisha didn’t give her a handout, but he did give her something. He gave her three clear and simple instructions.
The first assignment was to go from door to door and ask neighbors to borrow vessels – and she had to borrow many, not a few vessels. You don’t know what people will give you unless you ask. Pride tells us to keep our mouths closed because what you’re going through is nobody’s business, but this woman was desperate. She didn’t care who knew what kind of trouble she was in. All she wanted was to come out of it. She humbled herself and obeyed the prophet.
The next assignment was to go in a room, shut the door, and fill the borrowed vessels. Some of us would have allowed logic to talk us out of obeying this instruction. Elisha asked her to borrow vessels, but how can you fill many vessels when you only have one jar of oil? The things God ask you to do may not make sense, but it does make faith. In spite of what her mind said, she believed the word she heard. If you don’t believe what you hear, you won’t obey it.
The last assignment was to sell the oil. This was a lot of work. How long did it take to borrow vessels, fill them and sell the oil? Some people would complain about losing sleep and being tired, but remember, this widow probably wasn’t resting anyway. She was probably worried and wondering how she was going to pay this debt, but if she worked now, she would rest well after her debt was paid.
One of the purposes of anointing oil was to anoint the body for death. If the prophet wasn’t able to help her, she would have given up, but God didn’t want this oil to be used for her death. He wanted her to use this oil so she could live longer and enjoy life.
What this woman needed was in her house. What you need is inside of you, but like this widow, we call our something ‘nothing’. Either we don’t know what we have or we don’t understand the value of what we have. I don’t know how long she had oil in her house, but it probably took her losing everything to see what she had. Sometimes God will allow things to dry up in your life (like Elijah at the brook of Cherith) so that you will move and do what He has called you to do.
I want to leave you with these six points:
- God loves you and He doesn’t take pleasure in seeing you struggle.
- Stop looking at what other people have and be content with what you have.
- Stop saying ‘I don’t have it’. God has given you everything you need to live this life (2 Peter 1:3).
- Even if you don’t have a lot, what you have is what you need.
- What is insignificant to you is significant to someone else. Someone needs what you have.
- Jesus has given you permission to ask and in return it will be given. Ask Him to reveal to you what you have and ask for wisdom to use it the way He designed it to be used.
Inside of you is a word, a book, a business idea, skills and talents.
What do YOU have in your house (body)?