II Kings 4:1-7
The prophet Elisha, as God’s representative, was approached by a destitute widow. With no husband to provide for her, she faced the loss of her two sons as well in order to pay off her debts. She had faith, as we do, that God will provide for our needs if we trust in Him (Matthew 6:31-33).
And yet Elisha’s first question is, “What do you have in your house?” (verse 2) It appears that she had already been forced to sell most of her possessions; her one and only remaining asset was a small jar of olive oil. But when she followed Elisha’s instructions, the amount of oil increased until there was more than enough to meet the family’s needs.
Jesus’ disciples could see a need: several thousand hungry people. It was patently obvious that they did not have the resources to feed such a crowd – so why did Jesus ask, “How many loaves do you have?” (verse 38) Five loaves and two fish were next to nothing – but when Jesus shared the food around, everyone had plenty to eat.
What have YOU got?
Do we expect God to hand us everything on a plate?
When our own resources are inadequate to resolve a problem, God doesn’t usually ‘parachute in’ the answer; He wants us to be active participants in the solution. He very often challenges us to commit what we do have – knowing full well that it is not enough, but trusting Him to make up the shortfall. The widow had to collect empty jars; the more zealously she followed that instruction, the greater the blessing she would experience. And both she and the disciples discovered that their stock increased only as they dispensed it. We receive as we give…
Enough and to spare
Our God is generous; He gives more than the bare minimum. The spare oil would enable the widow to make ends meet until her sons grew up and were able to support the family themselves; Jesus’ disciples had a basket of food each to eat (and share) the next day. So leftovers have their uses; they are not to be wasted!