In the Old Testament book of 2 Kings we read the story of Elisha and a poor widow. Elisha was a disciple and protege of Elijah. When God took Elijah up into heaven in a chariot of fire Elisha received Elijahs mantle and a double portion of his spirit. Elisha was a wonder worker and prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel, prophesying between 892-832B.C. There are many stories of the wonders Elisha performed in the book of 2 Kings but perhaps the story that stands out most for me is found in 2 Kings 4:1-7.
A widow with two sons owes a debt she cannot pay, and the creditors are on their way to collect. The payment will be her two sons, sold into slavery and she is frantic. We do not know what the debt is for, nor do we know how old her sons are. It appears they are young since they do not seem to be working to help pay off the debt. She cries out to Elisha, looking for a miracle. How many of us have found ourselves in an impossible situation, looking for something...anything to ease our fears and change our situation. Whatever is vexing us prevents us from seeing clearly and we miss the solution that is right in front of us.
Elisha asks the woman what she has. It must have seemed like an odd question, but she is desperate. The widow tells Elisha she has nothing, except for a jar of oil. One might say that was the sum total of her wealth. Eliahs’s solution is also a bit out there, but we read in both Luke 1:37 and Genesis 18:14 that nothing is too hard, or impossible for God. The widow's instructions were simple. She and her sons were to go to all the neighbors and ask for empty vessels...as many as they could get their hands on. Then she was to go into the house, shut the door, and start pouring oil from the jar she had into the jars she had received from her neighbors. The oil continued to flow until they ran out of vessels, and then it stopped. She could then take the oil to the market, sell it and pay her debt.
Is it miraculous? Yes, it is. But nothing is too difficult for the Lord. We have seen that over and over again in scripture. Women who were barren have given birth at advanced ages. The blind received their sight and the lame have been healed. Leperswho expected to spend the rest of their lives outside of town calling out unclean, unclean, were healed and able to rejoin their families. Israels badly outnumbered armies won battles they had no good reason to win...other than the Lord fought on their side. God is in the miracle business. But here is the thing, sometimes the solution to our problem or struggle is right in front of us. In plain sight.
For those of us who wear glasses, how many times have you gone on a full house search looking for those glasses only to find them later, on top of your head. The same is true for our lives. The right answers for your life and mine are not only in front of us, but within us. You see, we want all the answers to be clear. We want God to put up billboards with all the answers. Maybe He could do some sky writing, send a quick text or email. Sometimes we look for answers on our own terms and we miss what God is showing us. We look for big answers to ginormous problems when in fact the answer is simple, perhaps even a committed step towards a simple idea. But we must be ready to receive those simple answers. That involves spending time in the Word. It means we find a time for quiet every day so that we can still our busy lives and listen for what the Lord has for us. It is not easy to still ourselves but that will come with practice.
Some of us have been fiercely independent much of our lives but we will not find lasting answers in our own selves. Doing things in our own strength does not often result in lasting success. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9,” My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.” The widow was powerless, but in that weakness, she was strong in the Lord. Many of us have found ourselves powerless in situations. It is a helpless feeling. But we need only turn to the Lord, and His power, not ours, will see us through.
God places people in our lives for specific things sometimes. God placed Elisha in the widow's life with a solution to her struggle that was right in front of her. He has done the same for me on several occasions and I am quite sure He will do so again. The Lord will do the same for you, and in fact He probably already has. As you look back over your lives, I would imagine you will see times when it is clear God was at work. And sometimes we do not realize it until we can look backwards. God is good, all the time. He will take our weakness and give us His strength. He will answer our cries and prayers. But it will be in His time and in His way.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W