In this Day1 Reflection Video, the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli explores how God can provide all we need in life as she discusses the story of the woman in need whom the prophet Elisha helps (2 Kings 4:1-7). Ginger is senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt ill-equipped for the task before you-or simply couldn't see a way forward? Perhaps it was becoming a parent, or being given a new responsibility at work or in your faith community, when a relationship ended or when a job was lost. I imagine we've all had some times in our lives when we don't feel we have what we need. Some years ago, at a time when I found myself feeling overwhelmed, unprepared, and insecure, my spiritual director suggested I pray with the story found in 2 Kings 4:1-7.
This is a story about a woman whose husband has died leaving her with unpaid debts. A collection company is threatening to take and enslave the woman's two children as payment. She shares her situation with Elisha the prophet. Elisha asks her "How can I help you? What do you have in the house?" She says, "I've got nothing...except one jar of oil." So the prophet instructs the woman to reach out to her neighbors, asking them to lend as many empty jars as they have. Then, to start pouring out the one jar of oil into the empty ones. So the woman does this and as she keeps pouring, the oil continues to flow until the last jar is filled. The oil was sufficient-not only to pay the debts but also to support the family into the future.
The woman said she had nothing-and I'm sure she felt that way. Because that's the way it feels sometimes, right? But Elisha asked a question that brought a reality check. The woman had a jar of oil. She had what she needed right there within her home, within her life. And it was not only the oil that she had, but also her children and neighbors. With their help and generosity, other resources were made available. All she had to do was to trust God enough to pour out the little oil she had, to risk sharing what must have felt woefully inadequate.
When I begin to feel like I don't have what it takes to do or to be what is needed, I remember this story and that I have been blessed with gifts and resources. They are within me and around me. Those resources may feel small and insufficient, but if I simply "pour them out," trusting God to make them enough, they will be enough.
What if Elisha's questions were God's voice speaking directly to you? Try to hear God asking you, "What can I do to help you? What do you have?" What amazing grace it is that our God wants to help us and to work with what we already have.
What is the "jar of oil" in your life? And what do you suppose might happen if you risk pouring out that gift, trusting that God will make it more than enough?