June 11, 2013

Nothing but a Jar of Oil

2 Kings 4:1-7

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
—2 Kings 4:2


Olive oil was a “miracle ingredient” in Elisha’s time; it was a staple for everyday life. It was useful for fuel, lotion, medicine, and cooking.

When the widow tells Elisha that all she has is a little oil, she is saying that once her jar is empty, her last resource for light, heat, medicine, and food will be gone. Her final resort will be to sell her sons into slavery so that debts can be paid and they will not starve to death.

No wonder she has turned to Elisha for help!

But Elisha doesn’t produce a handful of shekels. Instead, he asks her what she has. That question turns her despair to hope. She sees that she has resources: oil and a God who cares for her. The miracle that happens results from her remembering that God is still present in her life, still watching over her and her family.

Sometimes we find ourselves in seemingly impossible and tragic circumstances. It’s then that we need to be reminded that God never leaves us without resources, that God is there in both the big and small tragedies of our lives.

Our problems may never be much bigger than the dilemma of daily living, but no problem is too big or too small to bring to God’s doorstep.

Father, hear our praises as well as our cries for help. We know that you always watch over us and care for us. Help us to see what we have instead of what we don’t have. And provide for us, we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the author — Thea Leunk

Thea Nyhoff Leunk has been a high school English teacher, a director of Christian education, a pastor of discipleship, and a regional coach for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. She is currently the senior pastor at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Thea has also written courses for teens and young adults on world religions, Christian faith traditions, and science and the Bible. She and her husband have three adult children.

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