"One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, 'My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.'
2 'What can I do to help you?' Elisha asked. 'Tell me, what do you have in the house?'
'Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,' she replied.
3 And Elisha said, 'Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.'
5 So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!
'Bring me another jar,' she said to one of her sons.
'There aren’t any more!' he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.
7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, 'Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.'"
As this story begins, we see Elisha talking to a prophet's widow and her two sons. They are out of money. They are desperate. They have no means to care for themselves. They need help. The boys are about to be taken into slavery as a payment for their debt, which was a very common practice of the time. This will, however, leave the widow all on her own. It could end in her own slavery, in her entering into prostitution, or even in her death if this thing goes all the way.
I'm sure at the time, despite being surrounded on all sides by God's prophets, she felt all alone and totally helpless. Where was God? Why didn't he help her? And so she bravely tepped out and asked for help. What choice did she have at that point? It was ask for help or face the impending consequences with no hope. She chose hope.
According to www.biblestudytools.com, a widow was a woman whose husband died and she remained unmarried. The Hebrew "almana" actually goes further to define it as a woman whose husband had died and who was left without any economic or social support. It goes on to say that "the loss of husband in ancient Israel was normally a social and economic tragedy." This same site also indicated that this poor woman left behind isn't typically the legal owner of the land she and her children are on in this story, but is likely caring for it for her boys to take over in the future. Can you imagine what life was like for this woman? For any woman unlucky enough to lose their husband before them?
This woman is in desperate need of a miracle from God. She needs him to step in and we know that he will. In his own time. God's time is not the same as ours. He is infinite. Time is meaningless to him. We are finite. We want that help now. But this story proves that God is there. He is coming. It might not look the way we think it should look or play out in the way we want it to, but God will swoop in.
Look at verse 4a again:
"Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you."
This is interesting to me. This woman needs a miracle. She needs God to step in and rescue her. She stepped out in faith and hope that Elisha would help her and what does God tell her to do through Elisha? He wants her to "go inside and shut the door behind" her. He doesn't want it to be a big show. This miracle is just for her. It's not about everyone else. It's only about her.
I love that this woman, this unnamed woman, stepped out in faith the way that she did. She knew she needed help. She knew she needed prayer and intervention on her behalf. She also knew that she didn't have a clue what to do for herself anymore. And so she told a trustworthy believer who prayed with her for her miracle. And then when she knew what God wanted her to do, she didn't sit back and wait for things to happen. She didn't argue or claim that it was impossible. No! She stepped out in that faith and did what God told her to do, one step at a time.
Was the task easy? No. She had to go to every neighbor begging for jars. She had to pour and pour until her hands were numb. But she did the hard work required of her and participated in her own miracle. Because she believed and trusted then put her faith into action (just as James calls us to in the New Testament, though she wouldn't have known that then as he wrote it WAY after she was gone), she saw her God-sized miracle come into fruition!
This story made me think about my own life and my own circumstances as the Bible often does. How often have I asked God to make something happen- like he's just my genie waiting to do my bidding- and then was unwilling to do the hard work that came with it?
It also made me realize once again that God knows me. He loves me. He cares what happens in my life. He is always there, always willing to listen and to help me out. This woman from our story today doesn't even get a name but God knew it. No one knew she needed anything at all but God did. By society's standards at the time, this woman was a nobody and not worth the time or the effort. But she was worth it to him.
And so am I. So are you. You are worth it in God's eyes. No matter what you've done, what you believe, what your past holds, what is coming in your future, where you're residing in your present, what you look like, what you act like- you matter to God. We are all loved, period. It's my prayer that we can all remember this as we go through our day today.
Go and be blessed today. And don't forget to be a blessing!