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The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (2 Kings 4:1-7 NIV)

The woman in this passage of Scripture has hit rock bottom. Her husband has died owing money, and all she has is her two sons. The debt collectors on are their way and will take the two sons to sell as slaves so that the debts left by the widow’s husband may be cleared. The widow doesn’t cry out directly to God, but she goes through an intermediary – the prophet Elisha.

Elisha does not get out his wallet and offer to pay off the widow’s debts. Instead he asks her what she has in her house. She is clearly in a desperate state because all she has to her name is a small jar of olive oil. Elisha tells the widow to collect up as many empty jars from her neighbours as she can. There is then a miracle in which the empty jars are filled with olive oil providing the means for the widow to pay off her debts and provide for her family in the future.

There is much to learn from the widow and Elisha. She cried out when she was running on empty, with nowhere else to turn. She had nothing left except a small jar of olive oil, which was miraculously used to transform the future of the widow and her sons.

  • Perhaps when we are running on empty we have arrived in a place where God can miraculously fill us?
  • Perhaps when we believe we have nothing left there is still something small that God can take and multiply to His glory?
  • When He tells us to gather empty jars is He saying “do not limit my vision?”

Search deeply. What is the ‘nothing except’ in your life that God might wish to take and use? Will you limit His vision? Remember the words of Elisha. ‘Don’t ask for just a few.’