Saturday, February 5

A Mark of Faith

This week is missions week at my church. One missionary who spoke last night shared an interactive sermon from II Kings 4:1-7, a story about Elisha and a widow. If you're not familiar with the story, I provided the link so that you can go read it! But I'm happy to share the paraphrased version with you as well.

Essentially, a widow comes to Elisha and tells him that since her husband's death, the creditors are coming to collect on his debts and will take her two sons as slaves, for compensation. Elisha, in turn, asks her what she has available to which she replies, a small jar of oil. He then tells her to go to her neighbors and collect all the empty jars that she can and "don't ask for just a few." Once she has all these jars in her house, she is then to pour her little oil and watch as God miraculous fills up all the empty jars. Then she can sell the oil, pay off her debts and live off the remainder.

What stood out to me in this teaching was the part where Elisha challenges her to "don't ask for just a few." He essentially was telling her to expect God to provide greatly! But God was only going to provide greatly if the widow expected greatly. If she stopped asking after obtaining two or three empty jars, then she would have only seen God provide two or three jars of oil. If she asked and asked until she obtained an abundance of jars, then she would get to see God provide accordingly. The degree of her faith in God would mirror the outcome of God's provision.

The widow came to Elisha seeking help. She almost accuses Elisha as being responsible for her well-being since her husband, a prophet of God, was a servant (figuratively, most likely?) of Elisha's. Elisha doesn't succumb to her "guilt trip" but in turn, charges her into action. Would she put her faith in God, like her husband did? Would she worship and seek Him too? Or would she be a victim of her circumstances?

The woman could have walked away, dismayed at Elisha's lack of assistance. The man of God did not provide money, wisdom, or assistance...he only offered counsel, strange and unconventional counsel. She did not have to ask for any jars. She could have sought out the next man of God, for a second opinion. And yet, she choose to obey. When she had all the empty jars in her house, and she picked up her flask of oil, what ran through her head? Did she just expect the little amount to multiply or to just see her little amount now sitting in a big borrowed jar?

Who knows?

We are not told how many jars she ended up collecting. We are not told her thoughts and if she even considered not following Elisha's counsel. Instead, we see her faith enriched as she obeyed Elisha and got to witness God's provision for her and her sons!

I pray that I never make God too small to provide in big ways, due to my own small faith. I also pray that I never take away an opportunity to encourage the expansion of someone else's faith by stepping in to help where God Himself could do great things.

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