Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.” 2 Kings 4:3
She’s identified only as “the wife of a man from the company of the prophets” (2 Kings 4:1). But the Bible reveals enough of her character to inspire me—and convict me.
She knew joy. She had two sons. She knew grief. Her husband had died and a creditor intended to take her two sons as his slaves to cancel their father’s debt (v. 1). Her desperation drove her to Elisha, the prophet. She needed a miracle.
She appealed to Elisha on the basis of her husband’s faith (v. 1). Elisha challenged her to act on her own faith. She felt she has nothing to offer (v. 2). Elisha showed her that she had enough—if she responded in obedience to God.
She could have laughed when Elisha told her to collect her neighbors’ empty jars (v. 3). What good were jars if she had nothing to put in them? But she obeyed. And when Elisha then told her to fill the jars with the tiny bit of oil she had, she obeyed again. How foolish it must have seemed. Yet the oil kept flowing until all the jars were full. So she sold the oil and paid her debt; her sons were safe (vv. 4-7).
This unnamed widow teaches me to boldly approach God with my requests. She models the humility of revealing a need to others and requesting their help. She shows me that I don’t need more faith; I need a more obedient spirit.
God may ask us to do something that seems foolish—to tithe when our income is stretched, to spend the day at the soup kitchen when our inbox is full, or to spend time with our children when the laundry hamper overflows.
But whatever small thing God requests, the miracle we seek depends on obedience. And the joy we need even more than the miracle is contingent also on obedience.
What is your need today? Are you desperate enough to ask God to supply it, to humbly ask others for assistance, and to obey God’s instructions? If so, then gather your pots and watch the oil of His blessings flow.
Read Matthew 7:7-11. What similarities do you see between the story in 2 Kings 4:1-7 and Jesus’ teaching in the Matthew passage?
Read Luke 18:1-8. Compare the widow in this parable with the widow in 2 Kings 4. What do both stories teach us about God and His interaction with desperate people?
According to Hebrews 4:14-16, why is it appropriate for us to approach God boldly, confidently in time of need?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of a series: Unnamed Heroes